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INTIMATE PAGES OF 
MEXICAN HISTORY 



BY 

EDITH O'SHAUGHNESSY 

[MRS. NELSON O'SHAUGHNESSY] 

AUTHOR OF "a DIPLOMAT'S WIFE IN MEXICO,' 

"diplomatic days," "my LORRAINE 

JOURNAL," "aLSACE IN RUST 

AND GOLD," ETC. 




NEW yiSjf YORK 
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 



.Ogf 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, 
BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 






/^,. 




y 



OCT -5 1920 



V 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



©CI,A576749 



INTIMATE PAGES OF 
MEXICAN HISTORY 

PART ONE: PORFIRIO DIAZ 
"By their fruits ye shall know them." 

CHAPTER I 

In Exile, Rome, 1913 — Retrospect — Triumphal Entry of the Heaven- 
born General into Mexico City, November 21, 1876 — First Ad- 
ministration — Immediate Predecessors: Sebastian Lerdo de 
Tejada, Proud and Unpopular. Benito Juarez, the Great Ldb- 
eral, the "Man in the Black Coat." 

Diaz needs no written praise. His works have long 
since been set in final and magnificent relief against 
the chaos that followed his disappearance from Mexi- 
can history. 

Yet a few human things concerning one to whom 
nothing human was foreign will not come amiss. 

The Abb6 Brasseur de Bourbourg, traveler and 
savant, passing through Mexico in the early sixties, 
says of him that he was the most perfect type he had 
ever seen, and what he imagined the kingly hero 
Cuauhtemoc to have been. More than half a century 
has passed since then. During these decades, doubt- 
less sometimes mistakenly, after the human way, but 
always in the grand manner of Empire-builders, he 
transformed his country, bandit-ridden, revolution- 

15 



16 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

rent, blood-stained, darkly passionate, where things 
are seldom what they seem, into something bright and 
beautiful and explicit among the nations. 

I knew him only in exile, but even then old, very 
old, and hurt unto death, so much of the magnificence 
of his high and tragic destiny hung about his person, 
that I was dazzled and silent as I stood looking at him 
in the radiance of that Roman Easter morning of 
1913. His head was of fine proportions, somewhat 
square and high above the ears, his white hair was 
still thick, his jaw was firm, the lines leading from 
nose to chin, though deeply cut, caused no sagging 
of the face. His eye, that strange hazel eye, with its 
very dark pupil, was piercing and still beautiful; 
his forehead in spite of the many lines above the 
accentuated protuberances of the eyebrows, and the 
furrows between the eyes, was stamped with a patient 
yet stern serenity. His visage, though stained and 
yellowed, seemed to have escaped the degradation 
that time is accustomed to inflict upon the human 
countenance. There was nothing broken nor defaced 
in his aspect, though aged he was not destroyed; 
rather over his outward being lay, as it were, a beau- 
tiful patina, such as time gives to temples and pic- 
tures, but rarely to their creators. 

His figure, of medium height, was strikingly erect, 
and his few gestures had the noble reserve of out- 
long accustomed to authority. 

Beside him stood the incomparable companion 
his greatness. In her severe, deep-blue dre-^ 
close, deep-blue hat, a single string of fau. 
pearls about her throat, she was of an indeg ribc 
elegance, the storied queen in exile. 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 17 

She had noble, strongly-marked features and a skin 
of ivory-like texture and pallor. Her head was 
carried with a sort of lofty modesty, peculiar to her 
alone among the women I have known of high des- 
tin}'. Her figure was slender-hipped, small-waisted 
and she had a low, gently-swelling bosom. There was 
something passionately shielding in her attitude, and 
a great tenderness in her look wiien it turned towards 
her husband, something in her naturally gentle being 
that suggested the vigil of the lioness over the 
wounded King of the Forest who feels the hurt is 
mortal. It is no small thing for a woman to have 
lived for more than three decades with the greatest 
man of her country. . . . 

After the greetings, and when he had given me the 
far-famed, appraising glance, we spoke of the Madero 
assassinations then so recent.^ It was in deep sad- 
ness that he deplored the event, but without any hint 
of self-justification, though ruin had been w^rought 
such as he had rescued his countiy from in the days 
of his youth, and preserved it from all the years of 
his power. 

With a look on his face which it might have worn 
had he been alone, he continued : 

"I might have reestablished order, — it would not 

have been the first time" (here he paused for an in- 

*^stant, doubtless reviewing in memory the blood of 

•^att^es and the bending of law-breakers' wills), ''but 

' ''ould only have been done by a fratricidal war 

"^ would have destroyed the industries and com- 

te of. the country, and exposed it to international 

^§ipli^tions." 

* Madero and Pino Suarez were killed on February 22. 



18 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"But the evil lias been greater," I hazarded (in 
French, he speaking Spanish). He made a gesture 
of assent, then without any trace of bitterness added 
simply ; 

"It was told me that my presence was the 
reason for the revolution. What could I do except 
withdraw, making a last sacrifice to peace?" 

I could not speak to him of the ingratitude of 
nations, who, with such rare exceptions, put their 
great men to death or send them into exile. He would 
have brooked no reproach where his people were con- 
cerned, even though they had cast him out. As, 
deeply moved, I arose to go, he held me for another 
moment, saying : "My only ambition is for my coun- 
try's peace and prosperity," adding, "what can it 
matter to me whose hand will be privileged to accom- 
plish this? It is the only happiness I can know in 
exile." He made a slight gesture, involuntarily call- 
ing attention to that hotel room in which his soul 
was so evidently a stranger. 

As for myself, instead of that crude blue and gold 
salon of the Hotel Bristol where they were receiving 
me, I saw for a moment, hanging in a strange trans- 
parency, the high castle of Chapultepec. Beneath 
was the troubled, gun-shot city. It, like Rome, was 
enfolded in the natural beauty, even greater, of its 
Easter morning. I suddenly realized that I was wit- 
nessing one of those swift and formidable vindica- 
tions that nature and history sometimes permit to 
greatness. Events had again exalted Porflrio Diaz, 
as definitely as if some Fate personified, stooping, had 
lifted his fallen statue and placed it again on its 
pedestal. * * . . 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 19 

After the launchinj; of the Plan of Tuxtepec in 
Oaxaca on January 15, 1S76, Sebastian Leido de 
Tejada, then President of Mexico, fled to the United 
States. Out of the ensuing disorder finally emerged 
the "Greatest Mexican," Porfirio Diaz, and the man- 
ner of his appearance at the head of the government 
was in the typical Mexican manner, — after a revolu- 
tion, by a military coup. Under his command the 
revolutionary army entered Mexico City on Novem- 
ber 21, 1876, and their leader was proclaimed pro- 
visional President. 

The entry of General Diaz into the capital was in 
keeping with the majestic period it inaugurated. 

Clad in a gray field-uniform, relieved only by a 
single row of gilt buttons on which was embossed 
the Mexican eagle, mounted on a mettlesome steed, 
astride one of the English saddles he always used, his 
fine eyes flashing as they glanced vigilantly about 
him, his lips and chin firm, his head high, his whole 
bearing stamped with an indomitable will and an 
unfaltering courage, what wonder that an awed popu- 
lace saw in him the heaven-sent leader? The revolu- 
tionary army which followed him doubtless resembled 
outwardly other revolutionary armies; we are all 
more or less familiar with them now, but no acts 
of violence were committed, no scenes of disorder 
took place. Their chief's commands were too explicit, 
infringement meant death. Lerdo's troops — he him- 
self had fled tlie day before — made no resistance in 
the capital, but were swept away or melted quite 
smootlily into the victorious ranks. It was the begin- 
ning of tlie great Porfirian peace, of Mexico's Augus- 
tan Period. 



20 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOKY 

General Diaz remained but a few days in Mexico 
City, the government being given into itlie hands of 
General Juan Alvarez, he himself leaving to continue 
the work of pacification in the interior. With an 
army of three thousand men he marched against 
Iglesias, who, after making a show of resistance, fled 
to the port of Manzanillo, whence he embarked for 
the United States. He had been elected President of 
the Supreme Court of Justice in 1873. This position 
made him virtually Vice-President of the Republic. 
Disputes had arisen between him and Lerdo. Being 
aggressive and very ambitious, Iglesias openly 
launched a revolution, after the time-honored custom, 
with the intention of ultimately assuming the su- 
preme power. But one greater than them all had 
arisen in their midst. 

The Congress of April, 1877, which decreed Por- 
firio Diaz President for four years, laid the corner 
stone of the magnificent edifice known as "Modern 
Mexico." 

The only visible and decidedly encumbering furni- 
ture of State left in the debris of the old edifice, 
except, of course, the Constitution made of the 
greenest of wood, was the English Debt, the Spanish 
Debt, the United States Debt, ouq known as the 
"Padre Moran" debt, together with interior liabilities 
too numerous to inventory. All was done up in the 
frayed upholstery of banditry and revolution, and 
sagged and creaked with poverty. The only furnish- 
ings still in perfect working condition were the con- 
flicting passions of half a hundred years. We of 
1920, familiar with Mexico in revolution, can some- 
what appreciate the difficulties confronting Porfirio 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 21 

Diaz, and the sovereign wisdom which alone enabled 
him to construct a new Mexico. 

In 1880 the term for which he was elected having 
expired, with a political vision that merited better 
results, he retired according to the constitutional 
provision that no President should succeed himself. 
Naturally this mark of civism was little appreciated 
by his compatriots, who considered that he was but 
biding a greater hour. 

During this first term of office he was largely em- 
ployed in discouraging banditry, and quelling the 
numerous revolutions which formed themselves spon- 
taneouslyand continuously out of tlie abounding ele- 
ments of disorder. For this, twenty years of active 
martial life had supremely fitted him. Knowing the 
physical and moral conformation of Mexico as no 
other man has ever known it, the potentialities of his 
people, the spirit and variety of their national quali- 
ties, he proceeded first to give them the essential 
gift of peace, leaving that of liberty for a more profit- 
able moment. 

He renewed diplomatic relations with France, with 
Belgium, with Portugal, though on account of the big 
English debt, an inheritance from the splendor- 
loving but terrible Santa Ana, recognition was with- 
held by Great Britain. The difference of opinion as 
to the quality of the arms and ammunition supplied 
by England, which jamming or failing to explode, did 
not kill so many Mexicans as was expected, further 
embittered relations. 

Though the United States maintained its diplo- 
matic representative in Mexico City, Mr. John W. 
Foster, accredited there since the days of Lerdo, 



22 INTIMATE PAOES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Washington, too, delayed recognition of the Diaz 
government, and this for a diversity of reasons, the 
chief of which was lack of confidence in the estab- 
lishment of peace, and in the security of commercial 
relations. Though the government of the United 
States was aware of the military achievements of 
General Diaz, it knew nothing of his civic genius. 
It did know that his country was bankrupt and 
unruly. There was nothing in its history since 60 
years to cause the government of the United States 
to suspect that a man had appeared who in his single 
person would deliver Mexico from the evils of those 
six decades. 

His genius was soon, however, to reveal itself clad 
in the rarest of all governmental garbs — instinct for 
facts. He proceeded to give the first great impulse 
to railways, knowing that better communications 
would tend more than anything else, except his own 
energy and judgment, to rid the country of bandits, 
and gain the indispensable good-will of his Northern 
neighbor. Lerdo had been wont to say that "between 
Mexico and the United States there should remain 
a desert," adding "those who wish to traverse it, 
can do so on donkeys." A more classic expression 
attributed to him is, "Entre el debil y el fuerte, el 
desierto." (Between the weak and the strong, the 
desert. ) The word of Diaz was : "better communica- 
tions, — roads, railways, bridges, economic relations, 
reciprocal services, understanding, bonds." 

He discovered also another short, very short way, 
into the green paths of prosperity. The Mexican 
state being bankrupt, foreign capital was the evident 
and only means for the development of its latent 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 23 

riches and the suckling of its infant industries. He 
proceeded to make it not only safe, but pleasant and 
profitable for foreigners to invest their brains and 
money in Mexico. They brought with them the 
golden keys with which again to open the "Treasure 
House of the World." 

Diaz was succeeded by General Manuel Gonzalez, 
who had none of his predecessor's gifts and few quali- 
ties of his own. Riots, rebellions, revolutions were 
once more the chief concern of the Mexicans. 

Fatalistically and surprisingly they allowed him, 
however, to finish his term, perhaps because in the 
Mexican subconsciousness lay the knowledge that a 
great man awaited destiny in their midst. 

During President Diaz' first incumbency, at his 
solicitation, Manuel Romero Rubio, who had been 
Lerdo's Minister for Foreign Affairs, a charming and 
able gentleman, initiated by long and varied experi- 
ence into Mexican political mysteries, returned to 
Mexico from New York, where he and Lerdo had been 
living in exile, according to the even then traditional 
custom of Mexicans who had served or tried to serve 
their country. 

Lerdo's personal pride was immeasurable, and he 
always refused to return, saying "my dead body per- 
haps, but never alive." He died in New York; and 
when at last his body was returned to its native soil, 
President Diaz gave him the most splendid of burials, 
as befitted one who had been invested with the 
Supreme Power. 

Lerdo's administration had been extremely un- 
popular, one of his so-called reforms having been the 
expulsion £>f the Sisters of Charity from the Republic, 



24 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

and the attendant closing of many hospitals, asylums, 
and homes for the aged. It was as President of the 
Supreme Court of Justice that he had succeeded to 
the Presidency, quite fortuitously, on the sudden 
death of Benito Juarez, July 17, 1872. 

A word concerning Benito Juarez, the "man in the 
black coat," the only civilian figure of the first mag- 
nitude which had appeared in the history of Mexico 
since her Independence. He was a Zapotec Indian 
of pure race, born on the day of the vernal 
equinox of 1806, in an adobe hut, in the mountains of 
Oaxaca, on the borders of a lake known as the 
"Laguna Encantadora," the enchanted lagoon, from 
the way it had of unexpectedly drawing under to 
their doom even the strongest swimmers. 

His education began with a bookbinder of Oaxaca 
into whose employ he was taken at the age of twelve. 
From this humble starting point he was destined to 
tread the exalted and extremely varied paths of the 
Mexican patriot. He was to know supreme honors, 
likewise prisons and exile ; at one period of his career 
he was a fruit peddler in New Orleans. On his re- 
turn to Oaxaca in 1855 he soon gathered about him 
men of like political beliefs, among whom was young 
Porfirio Diaz, whose military star was just showing 
above the revolutionary horizon. 

On February 5, 1857, a new figure appeared 
in Mexican history, the gory Goddess "La Consti- 
tucion," who has since rivaled the sanguinary gods 
of the Aztec teocalli in the sacrifices she has exacted 
from the Mexicans. President Comonfort was 
sponsor for her, assisted by Benito Juarez, who be- 
came later Comonfort's "Minister of Domestic Rela- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 25 

tions." These "relations," be it said in passing, were 
of the noisiest and most disputatious kind, and 
Comonfort subsequently had their Minister cast into 
prison. Comonfort's own natural end was flight. 
After various eclipses and further vicissitudes, Benito 
Juarez emerged as President of Mexico and pro- 
fessed upholder of the Constitution, though being a 
wise Indian, he doubtless looked upon it as Mr. 
Clemenceau once looked on the Peace Treaty, as 
something with which, though not perfect, one could 
perhaps work. 

This indefatigable and gifted being of iron nerves 
and seemingly deathless body, who had never known 
a day's illness, died suddenly of heart disease in the 
Palacio in Mexico City on July 18, 1872. 

His body lay in state for two days, while an awed, 
highly-colored, big-hatted populace defiled through 
the Palace to look upon his basalt-colored face, which 
is said to have worn an expression of surpassing, 
almost alarming tranquillity, despite the great scar 
that stretched across it. 

These two men, Benito Juarez and Sebastian Lerdo 
de Tejada, were the immediate predecessors of Por- 
firio Diaz, and he alone knew how strange was the 
heritage they left him. 



CHAPTER II 

The Love-marriage of Porfirio Diaz — He Finds an Incomparable 
Companion for His Splendid Years — He Eides into His Native 
City, Eloquent of His Martial Life, witli His Young Bride — 
His Sternness in Matters of Discipline — His Generosity Towards 
Enemies — His Only Visit to the United States. 

It was while Governor-Elect of the State of Oaxaca 
that General Diaz married, on November 7, 1881, 
Carmen Romero Rubio, daughter of the man who had 
been Minister of Foreign Affairs under Lerdo, and 
who had accompanied him in his flight to the United 
States. 

At the time of her marriage "Carmelita/' as she 
was to be known affectionately and admiringly during 
long years to the Mexican people, was only sixteen, 
her seventeenth birthday not occurring till the fol- 
lowing January. 

About General Diaz hung visibly much of the mag- 
nificence of his destiny. Romance clothed his past, 
and there were potentialities of splendor about his 
future. He was the fabled, fancy-stirring "man on 
horseback"; the type of man that every government 
of Europe openly inveighs against and secretly de- 
sires in this year of 1920; the savior, who like all 
coming to save, performs his task above and beyond 
the crowd, which later, after salvation is accom- 
plished, resents his disdain and forgets his benefits. 

He had fought continuously during the war against 
the French. The pictures of him at La Carbonera on 

26 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 27 

his sorrel horse in his picturesque "charro" costume, 
a pistol in his hand, his steed pawing the air, the 
French in retreat, will live as long as the history of 
that epoch lives. He accomplished many daring 
escapes, such as that from Puebla in 1865, when he 
was a prisoner of the French from the 10th of Feb- 
ruary to the 22nd of September, and which is one of 
the most thrilling evasions of history.* 

Courage, decision, judgment, luck, all the great 
military qualities showed themselves even in this feat. 

^The following relation of General Diaz's escape from prison at 
Puebla in 1865 is in his own words: 

"We were delivered over to the Austrian forcea who imprisoned 
those of us above the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the fortress of 
Loreto. We were threatened with summary execution unless we would 
swear allegiance to the Empire and the majority yielded, but four 
of us refused, and a few days later I was transferred to the convent 
of Santa Catarina and placed in a cell with two other officers. On 
the pretext of a disagreement Mith them, I obtained a cell by 
myself and forthwith began digging a tunnel, starting underneath 
my bed. I was on the ground floor, in a chapel which had formerly 
been the cell of a nun of miraculous powers, and there was a well 
in it, famous for its curative waters. I used the well for receiving 
the earth which I dug from my tunnel. When I had almost reached 
a point underneath the street, after five months' work, I was sud- 
denly transferred to the convent of La CompaQia. While there I was 
treated with great courtesy by the lieutenant in command. Baron 
Chizmendia, who took me to a bull-fight on one occasion and even 
gave me permission to leave the prison alonjs on parole. This cost him 
dear on the return of his superior officer, the Austrian Count Thun, 
who put him under arrest for having given me these privileges. When 
I took Mexico, on June 21, 1867, I found Chizmendia among the 
Hungarian prisoners, set him at liberty and later sent him and other 
Hungarian officers, who were his friends, back to Europe on the 
"Novara" an Austrian frigate, which had come to Vera Cruz to 
take Maximilian to Europe. 

"Count Thun had returned to Puebla in ill humor from an 
unsuccessful campaign in the Sierra. He summoned me before him 
and after trying to induce me to give orders for an exchange of 
prisoners, which I refused to do, and expressing astonishment at 
what he termed my insolence after nine months' imprisonment, 
he ordered the shutters of our cells closed, leaving us in darkness. 
He increased the number of guards, authorizing them to enter the 
cells at any time, and to remain there if they considered it necessary. 
He made me an especial victim and to the extent that I resolved to 
make my escape. I first chose my birthday, the 15th of September, 



28 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

The internecine wars on the Isthmus and in Oaxaca, 
were also, as far as Diaz was concerned, a record of 

but as that was the eve of the anniversary of our independence, 
I could not carry out my plan because of the illumination of the 
streets of Puebla. So I put it off until the 20th. 

''I have succeeded in buying some horses which were in readiness, 
in charge of a servant in a house near by. Two of my fellow officers 
were in my confidence and they agreed to invite the others to a game 
of cards so that I might be left alone. I had provided myself with 
two coils of rope, wrapped about my body, and a third coil which 
I parried separately. My only weapon was a sharp dagger. 

"After the night-bell had sotmded, I went from my cell to a room 
common to all the prisoners and finding no one there, I threw one of 
the ropes to the roof, caught another rope over a stone eaves-spout 
and climbed up, pulling the rope after me, and picking up the other. 
My progress across the roof to the corner of San Eoque, the point 
I had chosen for my descent, was most dangerous because of a 
detachment of troops that occupied the higher roof of the church, over- 
looking the convent. Although the night was very dark, there were 
frequent flashes of lightning, which exposed me to discovery at any 
minute. 

' * Finally I reached the wall of the church. Here the roof slanted 
and was very slippery from the recent rains and I was in imminent 
danger of falling. I had just descended to the low roof of the 
chaplain's house when a young man entered it from the street, 
gayly humming a tune, as if he had just returned from the thea- 
ter. Soon after he came out, carrying a lighted candle and passed 
by the place where I was hiding. After what seemed to me an 
interminable wait, he returned and reentered the house. I gave 
him sufficient time to go to bed — and perhaps to sleep — and then 
I pursued my way to the corner above the street of San Eoque. There 
stood a statue of San Vicente Ferrer, and it was my purpose to tie 
to it the rope by which I was to make my descent. The saint was not 
as steady as could have been desired, but I supposed that he was 
sustained by an iron bar, and for greater safety, I attached my rope 
to* the pedestal, which served also as the corner of the building. 
I decided that it would be unsafe to drop to the street, as I might 
be seen by a passer-by, so I chose as my place of descent an open 
lot on the side of the building, without knowing that it was a 
pig-pen. As I began to let myself down, my dagger fell from my 
belt and must have woimded one of the pigs, as a great squealing 
ensued that threatened to expose me to discovery. 

* ' Upon reaching the ground, I hid for a while until the noise ceased 
and I was about to climb over the wall to the street, when I had to 
withdraw quickly on the approach of a gendarme going his rounds 
and examining the locks of the doors. When he had passed I gained 
the street, and was even able to suppress a terrible desire to cough, 
brought on by torments in my chest, resulting from the fatigues and 
anxieties of my flight. 

"I ran to the house where my guide was waiting for me with 
horses and weapons. We mounted and, luckily, found the Teotihuacan 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 29 

brilliant victories, wounds, fantastic and hair-breadth 
escapes. At all times and in all circumstances he 
had been a magnetic and romantic pei'sonality. He 
was of handsome and authoritative presence. His 
eyes, when I looked into them, were even then, at 
more than four-score, of an extraordinary and bril- 
liant beauty. What deep attraction must have lain 
within their glance thirty years before ! An immeas- 
urable tenderness, too, one of the best gifts of 
strong men to beautiful women, lay beneath the 
absolutism of the maker and ruler of Mexico. 

Such was the man bronzed, decorated, aureoled in 
victory, who would descend from his horse at the 
door of the house of Don Manuel Romero Rubio, in 
which is now the Calle Tacuba, then Calle San Andres. 
There was that in Porfirio Diaz' instinct which led 
him to seek a woman whose qualities would be supple- 
mentary to his own; there was that in his destiny 
that enabled him to find her; and having once found 
her, he exalted and cherished her to the end. 

gate open and so could leave the city without question. Colonel 
Bernardino Garcia was to have awaited me with his troops on the 
boundary between the States of Puebla and Guerrero, but because 
of having had to postpone my escape from the 15th to the 20th, I did 
not find him there. I then swam the river Mixteeo on horseback, not 
daring to be unarmed even for a moment, the Imperialist forces, 
under Colonel Plon, being in close proximity. On arriving at the 
village of Coayuca, I found that a fiesta was in progress. I avoided 
the center of the town but while in the outskirts I met the alcalde, 
whom I knew. I pretended to be a merchant on the way to the coast 
to buy cattle. He recognized me, however, congratulated me on my 
escajw and offered his help, urging me to stop a while as there would 
be no danger. I declined and went on. A few moments later I heard 
rifle shots and climbing a hill I could see that fighting was going on 
in the town. I learned afterwards that a squadron of Imperialists 
had made a sudden attack in the hope of surprising Garcia 's 
guerrillas, who were attending the fiesta. 

' ' We continued, without further incident, and after covering fifteen 
or twenty miles, found refuge in the rancho of Colonel Bernardino 
Garcia, in the mountains of Oaxaea. ' ' 



30 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

In the unevolved being of her sixteen years this 
woman held predestinatedly flie choicest qualities of 
tact and goodness in addition to her outward graces, 
and was to add to his autocratic rule a crowning 
touch of gentleness and modesty. 

During the period of the wars of Reform and 
Intervention he had been the man of camps, of sieges, 
of blood and battles, and doubtless himself and his' 
methods were often rough and ruthless. The pol- 
ished statesman of the last three decades of his 
administration was evolved, however, from this mili- 
tary chief. 

They met, with the immediateness Fate sometimes 
shows, on the occasion of Carmelita's first appearance 
in society, at a luncheon at the Tivoli Eliseo given 
in honor of General Diaz. Afterwards at the house 
of the Duchess de Eegla, the General and Carmelita 
danced together one of the charming Mexican 
"danzas," the young girl experiencing a very nat- 
ural thrill at the attentions of the man whose gifts 
and achievements were even then the pride of his 
nation. A few days later they met again at a recep- 
tion at the German Legation, where his interest was» 
evident to all. Shortly afterwards it was made 
known to the parents of Carmelita that the General 
was madly in love with her. It was Romance, age- 
less, repetitive and beautiful. 

But whether it was as son, lover, husband or 
father, each and every feeling of the heart was to be 
experienced in its fullness by Porfirio Diaz. His de- 
votion to his mother gives him a typic and exalted 
place among the legendary sons of history. As lover. 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 31 

his being was agitated by the extreme of passion and 
longing. As husband, fidelity, devotion and adoring 
solicitude accompanied every act to the end. He was, 
too, the kindest of fathers, .respectful of the needs and 
rights of the separate individualities of his children. 
Never were they to hear from his a violent, unconsid- 
ered word, nor suffer an arbitrary decision. I wit- 
nessed his final farewell from his daughter, Amada, 
his first-born. Such deep, paternal tenderness 
emanated from that ultimate embrace, that many who 
witnessed it were affected to tears. I was on my way 
back to Mexico in September, 1913, and for a 
few hours the "Espagne" lay off Santander. About 
four o'clock a small launch was seen approaching the 
ship over the glittering, many-colored, afternoon 
waters. In it were Don Porfirio and his wife bringing 
Madame de la Torre, Amada, who was returning to 
Mexico. As he took his daughter in his arms, press- 
ing her so closely to him, he seemed entirely forgetful 
of all else save love for that child he was to see no 
more. When at last she tore herself from his embrace 
and passed up the gangway, he could be seen standing 
motionless, majestic, his head bared, his eyes fixed 
on the ship whose prow was turned toward Mexico. 
« * * • 

Carmelita's mother was a woman of superior intel- 
ligence, though, after the Mexican way, her abilities 
were used exclusively for the benefit of her family. 
Her portrait shows something reserved, tranquil, 
unalterable in her being, and the small but modish 
bonnet of the period, with its narrow velvet strings 
tied under the chin, seems fitly to enclose the firmly- 



32 INTIMATE PAGES OFMEXICAN HISTORY 

cMseled features and the deep, dark eyes, with their 
undeviating look, of this woman, then young and very 
handsome. 

But even a faded colored photograph cannot dim 
the bright glance of Don Manuel Eomero Rubio's eye, 
nor efface the jDleasant, humorous lines about the 
mouth, revealing him a man of easy sympathies, of a 
tolerance of the generally unwise attitude men take 
towards the things that happen to them. His brown 
suit set off by a lightish blue tie, the broad kind, worn 
crossed, further reveal his type, while his rather heavy 
mustache and his chin-whiskers complete the very 
Mexican ensemble. Altogether something human and 
engaging emanates from the fading presentment of 
one long since vanished from the human stage except 
as the memory of his children recalls his words and 
acts. . . . 

Porfirio Diaz and Carmen Romero Rubio were two 
beings separated by a generation of time and every 
outward circumstance, which seemed to forecast un- 
happiness for both, rather than the years of mutual 
adoration, unbroken harmony and immeasurable 
trust, which were to compose their rare and perfect 
union. The gift of Porfirio Diaz' heart to his wife 
was as complete as the gift of his wisdom to his na- 
tion. She was to be the love of his life. And she, so 
early wedded, called, scarcely out of childhood to be 
the mate of the maker of Modern Mexico, was in 
turn to find all her joy in him, to live in and by 
and for him all the days of her life. "He was the 
beginning and the end of my existence," she once said 
to me, "life had no other meaning, no other value. I 
had only youth to give him; he gave me every- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 33 

thing. I adored him from the first and I live now 

only in memory and in the hope of another meeting." 
* * * « 

At the time of their marriage he was a widower of 
a year and a half. He had three children, one son, 
Porfirito, afterwards married to Luisa Eaigosa, and 
two daughters : Amada, who became the wife of Seiior 
Don Ignacio de la Torre,^ and Lnz, the wife of Senor 
Don Francisco Rincon Gallardo. His father was a 
Spaniard and his mother was Spanish through her 
father, though her mother had been a Mixtec Indian. 
The Indian blood of Don Porfirio was therefore only 
one quarter. His wife, Carmelita, was of pure 
Spanish extraction. 

He was born in the city of Oaxaca on September 
15, 1830, on the twentieth anniversary of the "Grito 
de Dolores." His cries and those of the mother 

bearing him were the cries of a new Mexico. 

jt * * * 

It was to his native city that Don Porfirio took his 
young bride, the wedding journey through that in- 
comparably beautiful country being made mostly on 
horse-back, with nights spent in hidden and romantic 
puehlos. The gorgeous valley leading to the city of 
Oaxaca, through which one can in fancy see them 
passing, is a riot of brilliant birds and flowers, and 
broad, shining leaves. The red-granite hills sur- 
rounding it are more austerely beautiful. It is 
inhabited by a race not speaking Spanish, often of 

* Don I^acio de la Torre was dispossessed of his great estates in 
Morelos by Zapata, who had been a groom in his stables. He died in 
exile in New York in 1918 leaving no children. Don Francisco Rincon 
Gallardo was murdered by bandits on his hacienda of Santa Maria 
in Aguascalientes in 1913. His wife and nine children survive him, 
the last being born after his death. 



34 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

strongly-marked Asiatic type. The men are small, 
but firmly-knit, silent, and white-sMrted ; the women, 
dark-eyed, pearly-teethed, envelop their heads after 
an immemorial custom in long blue cloths, and wear 
golden necklaces of hand-wrought filagree. Only a 
few kilometers away are the unsigned monuments of 
an ancient civilization, the ruins of Mitla. They lie 
overgrown with gorgeous vegetation, among other 
austere, red-granite hills, outlined against the bluest 
of skies. Locked in these mountains, too, are treas- 
ures which men have always sought feverishly, and 
for which they strangely lay down their lives, — gold 
and silver and copper, and also precious stones that 
generations of women receive from them to wear 
around neck or finger, or hang in ear. . . . 

The climate of Oaxaca is as perfect as anything 
earthly can be. Those who know it, may perhaps for a 
moment, as they read these words, feel themselves 
enfolded in the glittering November beauty that, at 
the close of the rainy season, lay about the city of 
churches and earthquakes, as he who was its greatest 
son, rode into it with his adored and beautiful young 
bride. 

It was eloquent of his martial life, for Oaxaca had 
been besieged and taken by him three times. The 
first time was in 1858 under the orders of Colonel 
Ignacio Mejia, fighting against the chieftain Cobos 
who held it. In 1860 he took it under General 
Salinas, and was severely wounded. In 1865, being 
in command, he held the city against Marshal 
Bazaine, who besieged it for days with overwhelming 
forces. He held it till the last cartouche was fired, 
the last corn and sugar consumed, then with that 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 35 

incomparable serenity of soul which marked all the 
great moments of his life, he surrendered with his 
troops, and was taken prisoner to Puebla. Again, on 
escaping, he took it in 1866, from General Oronoz. 
It was after this, with the cannon and arms taken 
from the enemy in the battles of Miahuatlan and La 
Carbonera that he began the siege of the city of 
Puebla, which he took by assault, on the unfor- 
gettable day of the 2d of Api-il, 1867. A few days 
later, in the battle of San Lorenzo, he defeated 
Marquez, "The Tiger of Tacubaya," and proceeded to 
the siege of the city of Mexico, which fell into his 
power on the '21st of June, 1867. Thus terminated the 
War of Intervention and the last days of the Empire 
in Mexico. . . . 

It is said that before his final retreat to Queretaro 
with Marquez and his two thousand armed men, 
Maximilian had watched in silence and despair, from 
behind a curtained window in the Palace, the depar- 
ture of the French troops from Mexico City. His 
hour on the Hill of the Bells was near. 
* • » * 

Oaxaca's low, massive-built houses are earthquake- 
resisting, with a Spanish-Moorish touch, and because 
of the gold in the near mountains it is intimately 
connected with the history of the Conquest.* 

^ it was occupied by Diego de Ordaz, one of Cortes' most intrepid 
companions, who in 1521 took it from the Aztecs, the Emperor 
Ahuizotl having founded it some forty years before. In 1522 Gonzalo 
de Sandoval was sent there with his thirty-five-never-before-seen 
horsemen, bringing about a panic somewhat after the manner of the 
tanks in 1918. An edict of Charles V., July 6, 1520, finally created 
Cortes Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, and the lands all about are 
known to this day as the "El Marquesado. " The first convent was 
established there in 1529 by Fray Gonzalo Lucero and the ancient 
bishopric was described as a triple vale, trefoil in shape, with the 



36 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

General Diaz and Ms bride took up their abode in 
the Government Palace, built in the noble form of 
architecture the Spaniards introduced into Mexico. 
It has but one story above its Doric-columned 
"portales," and its cornice is surmounted by urn- 
like shapes. In the interior are many ample, sun- 
stained patios, and great stairways, leading to 
spacious, high-ceilinged rooms. On Sundays and on 
feast-days the "buena sociedad" of Oaxaca congre- 
gates in the Plaza, and at all times there are chang- 
ing groups of Indians coming from every part of the 
state, belonging mostly to the Mixtec and Zapotec 
races. Wrapped in picturesque and immemorial 
garb, they offer delicate filagree work, bright woolen 
zarapes woven in their mountains, painted gourds, 
and highly-colored fruits. 

An incident which shows the unswervingness of 
Porfirio Diaz' purpose, the comprehension of his task, 
occurred but two weeks after his marriage. Under 
the very windows of the stately apartment inhabited 
by General Diaz and his bride, a young Indian 
soldier, on sentinel-duty before the door of the palace, 
who had smoked the strange herb, marihuana,^ which 

city of Oaxaca at the stem. One valley tends towards the Pacific, 
another towards the Atlantic and one stretches to the north. 

The city itself is built at the foot of a hill, sloping towards the 
Eiver Atoyac. The cathedral was founded in 1553, but it has been 
so bombarded and pillaged that little of its beauty remains, and 
even more cruel than wars have been the restorations. The great 
monastery and church of Santo Domingo in their fortress-like massive- 
ness have resisted both earthquake and cannon. The French troops, 
during the war of Intervention, plundered and devastated the city, and 
for much of the defacement of the Plaza of Oaxaca, Don Porfirio 
himself was responsible, in the sieges he so successfully undertook. 

* Legend has it that the Empress Carlota was secretly poisoned with 
this herb before she departed from Mexico to make her despairing 
appeals to Napoleon III and Pius IX. It was at the Papal court 
that her insanity definitely developed. Her husband and an Im- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ . 3T 

crazes him who takes it, had killed an under-officer. 
His wife Avith her baby in her arms, that same day of 
liis arrest, gained access to the young bride, beseech- 
ing her to intercede with the Governor. When she 
implored the pardon of the unfortunate murderer, he 
answered her : "Though I adore you, and would lay 
down my life for you, I cannot do what you ask me. 
The death of this man is as nothing compared to the 
sustaining of military discipline throughout the 
country. It cannot be known of me that I condone 
such an act." 

The end of the story is that the next day a delega- 
tion of women of the city of Oaxaca sent an appeal to 
President Gonzales, who commuted the death-sen- 
tence to fifteen years imprisonment in the fortress 
of San Juan de Ulna. 

But when discipline was not menaced. General 
Diaz could show himself of a royal generosity. 

After the storming of Puebla, three hundred 
Mexican officers fighting in the Imperial ranks fell 
into his hands. According to the law promulgated 
by Juarez, all such were to be summarily executed. 
Imprisoned in one of the greait chambers of the 
Municipal Palace, they gave themselves up for lost, 
and begged for notaries and priests, that they might 
regulate their affairs of this world and the next. 
This was at 8 o'clock in the morning. The victor sent 
word to them that they could do as they wished till 
three o'clock of the afternoon. They were even 
allowed to go into separate rooms with their con- 

perial Crown were forever lost to her. The world knows how she 
has passed the succeeding forty years of her life in the Chateau de 
Bouehoute, in a rayless night of insanity, kinder to her perhaps than 
would have been the light of memory. 



38 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

fessors and notaries. Later, all were transfei'red to 
the Archiepiscopal Palace. At half-past three General 
Diaz in his battle-stained garments, victory still shin- 
ing from his face (for Puebla had been taken in the 
night) , appeared suddenly in their midst. 

He broke the mortal silence which fell upon the 
condemned men to say sternly : 

"According to the law you are all subject to the 
death penalty, for you betrayed your country when 
she had most need of you." Then he paused, changed 
his tone, and continued: "In view of the fact, how- 
ever, that there are so many of you, I have the con- 
viction that ultimately the Government will be 
inclined to mercy, but the Law would require that 
you be kept in the strictest confinement till your fate 
be decided. I have myself so recently suffered all 
things for the cause I uphold that this I would spare 
you. Believing in the victory of the Republic, I per- 
mit each one of you to go forth a free man, upon 
giving your word in writing that you will present 
yourself for judgment at any time it be required of 
you by the Government." 

The scene was indescribable. The faces of three 
hundred men who had stepped back from death were 
turned towards him. 

Among them was Colonel Vital Escamillo, who 
had increased from his own purse the price that 
Count Thun, Diaz' one-time jailor at Puebla, had put 
upon his head. He was unknown personally to Gen- 
eral Diaz, but that touch of human frailty, never 
wanting on any great occasion, was shown when one 
amang those assembled, thinking to gain favor, 
pointed him out to the victorious General. His ges- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 39 

ture of scorn was for the informer, rather than the 
culprit, as he answered : "He, too, is free." 

It is said, also, that after returning the look of the 
three hundred men to whom he had given life as 
definitely as they had received it at their birth and 
their beginning, he turned suddenly away overcome 
by emotion, and left the place. 

General Tamariz, also among the prisoners of that 
famous day, then exclaimed to those about him: 
"Twice Diaz has vanquished me. Once by his mili- 
tary genius, now by his generosity. I would gladly 
serve him, even in the ranks." 

This act of magnanimity was of political import as 
well, for it was typical of the policy of converting 
enemies into friends, which he pursued through all 
the days of his power. . . . 

It was while Governor of Oaxaca that, in 1883, 
General Diaz, accompanied by his wife, made his only 
visit to the United States. To see was, with Don 
Porfirio, to understand, and he doubtless set apart 
in the best eclectic manner some of our institutions 
for imitation, — others for avoidance. Mr. John W. 
Foster, who had been so long Minister to Mexico, was 
officially appointed by President Arthur to receive 
and accompany them, together with his wife, on this 
visit. Carmelita and Mr. Foster's daughter Eleanor, 
now Mrs. Robert Lansing, had been playmates at the 
Romero Rubio house, and at the American Legation. 



CHAPTER III 

Second Administration — Empire-Building — Social Life in Mexico City 
Since the Brief and Tragic Glory of Maximilian and Carlota — 
Don Porfirio's Family — He Leaves His Mother's Death-bed at 
the Call of Country — His Eolations to the Church — Love of the 
Chase — Serenity of Soul — Disdain of Eiches — Personal Habits — 
The Ypwanga. 

In 1884, when Don Porfirio was again made Presi- 
dent by an almost unanimous election he continued 
to dwell in a house in the Calle Humboldt, opposite 
my first Mexican home. It was a then newly-built, 
not large, irregularly shaped structure, having 
several pink cupolas, with blue-painted ceilings, 
and was next the square building in more classic 
Mexican style, which was used as the Ministry of 
Finance in my day. 

A curious incident, concerning the building of this 
house, shows how forgetful Don Porfirio had been of 
money when he was in power, and its sources, fluid, 
unsealed, were near to his hand. In order to com- 
plete it, after his first Presidential term, he found 
himself obliged to ask a loan of 8,000 pesos from the 
Banco Nacional, which owed its prosperity to him. 
There were, after the usual human way, men on the 
council of the bank who inevitably voted not to let 
him have it. A Spaniard among them, Don Juan 
Llamedo, indignantly rose and said that he would 
personally be responsible for the sum, and that he 
considered any discussion as to the solvency of Gen- 
eral Diaz unbefitting the nation, with which state- 

40 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 41 

ment almost every one (unless somebody may have 
too recently tried to borrow from him ) will agree. 

It was to this house that he returned after taking 
his oath of office on December 1, 1884, and I have 
been told, by one who stood among them, of the 
immense and enthusiastic crowds that waited for 
hours before its door to acclaim him as he drove up, 
again President of Mexico, and entirely competent 
artisan of an undreamed greatness. He continued 
to dwell in it for some months, driving or riding to 
and from the Palace, a picturesque and noble figure, 
whose significance was becoming more and more 
apparent. 

From there he began with unerring instinct to 
gather the materials for his work of Empire-building. 
A few rather scattered and defaced remnants of his 
first administration remained. With these he pro- 
ceeded. He promptly removed the beam from his own 
eye by cutting his salary as President in half (from 
30,000 pesos to 15,000) and further (but less popu- 
lar) reforms were operated on others, as he pro- 
ceeded to reduce, though not to such an extent, the 
salaries of many government officials. He was to 
prove as implacable towards those who unduly pil- 
lage the State in eras of peace, as to bandits and 
enemies who do it in times of war. His complete 
knowledge of human nature, however, led to a tolera- 
tion on many occasions of what the French deli- 
cately call '1e pot de vin." 

Shortly after his inauguration the increasing 
duties of State made it necessaiy for him to live 
nearer the Palace where the administrative work was 
carried on. In it, then as now, were not only the 



42 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

offices of the President, but the Senate Chamber, and 
the Ministries of Treasury and War. He decided not 
to take up his abode in the Palace itself on account 
of the expense the Government would be put to for 
the keeping up of such a vast establishment, so he 
moved to a house in the Calle de Cadena, a street 
lying near it. In still later years he used the castle 
of Chapultepec for a summer residence. 

It was this house of the Calle de Cadena, inhabited 
by him during the decades of Mexico's Augustan 
Period, which a forgetful people, in the form of a 
howling mob, was to surround on the 24th day of 
May, 1911, shouting "Muera Diaz" and "Viva 
Madero." From it he left the City of Mexico forever 
in. the early hours of the 26th of May, 1911, showing 
once again that a ruler who has wrought good is as 
often hated as one who has wrought evil. The terri- 
fyingly potential noise of that same mob, its ebbing 
and swelling mutterings I shall never fOrget, driving 
hastily back from the Japanese Legation, where we 
had been informed of the outbreak, to the Calle Hum- 
boldt, in mortal anxiety lest something had befallen 
my little boy. 

Don Porfirio's son occupied the pink-cupolaed, now 
Bougainvillaea-hung house opposite, so long lived in 
by his father. Behind its closed shutters and barri- 
caded door, his wife was awaiting her deliverance in 
the midst of preparations for flight, and I remember 
thinking, as I looked across the street, "Woe to them 

that are with child." 

* * * * 

At the period of Don Porfirio's second term of 
office, social life in Mexico was of the simplest. Din- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 43 

ners would be given to incoming or outgoing Minis- 
ters, but the entertaining ended there. His wife did 
not, according to the then prevailing Mexican cus- 
tom, assist at the banquets. 

Since the brief and tragic glory of the Court of 
Maximilian and Carlota, society, as our pre-war 
world considered it, had not existed. During the 
Presidency of Benito Juarez the aristocratic and gov- 
erning Avorlds had been cut in twain literally by fire 
and sword, and there were no overlapping ends. The 
conservative and upper-class elements boycotted his 
regime, somewhat, doubtless, as I saw them boycot- 
ting the Madero regime. The War of Reform was 
too recent, and the almost daily confiscations of 
Church property were often accompanied by some 
personal act of Juarez, as when he permitted his sol- 
diers to raid, one night, the great Franciscan Convent 
in Mexico City. Mexican women of that day, 
whose only and traditional spheres of activity were 
their homes, were aroused to such indignation that 
they marched the next morning around the convent, 
black-robed and protesting. They naturally never 
lent their beauty and their virtue to any public func- 
tions of his regime. 

Juarez had an exemplary and handsome wife, but 
was himself very ugly, much below medium height, 
thick-set, swarthy, plain-featured, without outward 
graces of any kind. His adventures with the fair sex, 
who do not demand beauty in men, were, however, nu- 
merous, and at times spectacular. In this he but was 
true to type, for it would seem, looking down the 
vista of history, that illustrious statesmen and war- 
riors are drawn on, in direct ratio to their gifts, by 



U INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

tlie eternal feminine, responding even more easily 
llian other men to the great invitation which women 
throughout the ages extend to them. Of the antique 
chase, for which they are equally well equipped, I 
say nothing here. 

Juarez' successor, Lerdo, though a great lawyer, 
proved to be an indifferent President from every 
point of view, being very indolent — what is called 
"muy fiojo." To this was joined his excessive per- 
sonal pride. Peace and prosperity in Mexico demand, 
as we have seen, other qualities. He was unmarried, 
but was also of an amorous disposition, and seems 
to have been, to use a provincial but still explicit 
phrase, "a fast man." During his incumbency, 
society was also non-existent. By society I mean 
those groupings about the central power of culture, 
beauty, elegance, wit, set in splendors of fortune and 
tradition, which have always accompanied the rise 
of nations to greatness. Now by some strange distor- 
tion of the post-war lens, through which we look on 
life, these attributes, once the glory of states, are 
replaced by drab, misshapen, unwieldly, penurious, 
irresponsible groupings of mediocrities, which, how- 
ever, thanks to nature who abhors equality more than 
she does a vacuum, will, in the end, disappear. Once 
again such highly individualistic achievements as 
those of art and science, and the pursuit of honors 
and riches, natural objects of human endeavor and 
ambition, will reappear in their true form and value, 
and we shall understand and desire once more the 
benefits of that "just inequality," without which no 
State can be great. . . . 

During Don Porfirio's earliest incumbency his first 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 45 

wife, a Oaxacan like himself, had died, and he had 
been furthermore too engrossed in the problems pre- 
sented by banditry, and debts internal and external, 
to take part in social functions, or to hold any him- 
self. The simple austerity of his private life, his 
extreme personal modesty, combined with his great 
natural dignity, commanded respect and admiration, 
apart from the romantic prestige of his military tri- 
umphs, and would have made him a welcome figure 
in any circle. 

Victory by arms will forever enhance the glory 
of civic achievements, we cannot say why, and even 
those wlio abhor solutions by force see, as a lamp 
shining in the hearts of the generations, the memory 
and knowledge of the splendor of martial deeds, — 
though their end is so often exile or death. . . . 

When, on his second incumbency. President Diaz 
appeared with a young and beautiful wife, related to 
various great families in the Capital, things began 
insensibly to change. 

The formation and welding of the society of Mexico 
City, very aristocratic and exclusive on one hand, on 
the other composed of new governinental figures, was, 
however, a slow process. The Corps Diplomatique 
aided this greatly, discharging one of its organic 
functions (which I have seen operating in other 
countries, between Court and industrial circles) by 
consorting with both and unifying social life. In 
the end, culminating in the Centennial celebrations, 
Mexico City became one of the most brilliant capitals 
in the Western Hemisphere, even from the point of 
view of society. Women when going there needed 
notoriously the best clothes to be had in Paris or New 



46 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

York; the prestige of Diaz, which alone would have 
made of his capital a rendezvous of brilliant men, 
being further enhanced by the fact that his wife's 
natural and acquired elegance could vie with that of 
any woman. 

Much hospitality was then offered by the President 
and his wife. Everything was done impeccably, with 
care and distinction. Even now in exile, in a small 
apartment in a small street in Paris, the same dis- 
tinction is apparent in each simplest expression of 
hospitality given by his widow. 

Except for his children and his nephew Feliz, Por- 
firio Diaz was without near family. When a great 
man is thus, like Melchizedech, without father, with- 
out mother e- without brothers, he is indeed chosen of 
heaven, standing quite free for service. The impedi- 
menta of his so inscrutably predestined successor, 
Madero, on the other hand, included 232, or, accord- 
ing to some, 299 members of a family singularly 
acquisitive and active. 

Don Porfirio's children, fourteen, eight and six 
years of age at the time of his marriage to Carmen 
Romero Rubio, lived in perfect harmony with their 
young stepmother. "A situation that might have 
occasioned so many difficulties," she once said to me, 
"produced only the tenderest affection. They were 
always perfect to me. My mother, too, loved them 
very tenderly and was adored by them in turn." 

In his own earliest childhood, the home of Diaz 
had been devastated by the great cholera epidemic of ■ 
1833, during which his father and two sisters had 
died. His mother was left thus early to provide for 
the subsistence and education of her remaining chil- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 47 

dren. Even in that land of many resources and few 
needs the struggle was hard. Her husband, Jos6 de 
la Cruz Diaz, of Spanish parentage, after having 
served in the army in his early youth, had been for 
a while a blacksmith. Later, he was employed in the 
celebrated mine called "Cinco Seiiores" connected 
with those of "San Jose" and "El Socorro" in the dis- 
trict of Ixtlan. He was soon found to be worthy of 
the fullest confidence, and was put in command of 
the small force of men who transported the ore and 
distributed the wages of the employees. It was when 
he was thus engaged that he fell in love with and 
married Petra Mori, whom he had met in the neigh- 
boring town of YodocoEO. She was of Asturian 
origin on her father's side, as her name indicates ; her 
mother was a Mixtec Indian. She was of small stature, 
straight-featured and dark, and was to prove herself 
a woman of unusual gifts in the way of rectitude, 
charity, good sense and energy. Don Jose was a tall, 
strong, well-formed and handsome man, of great 
determination and most laborious habits. 

Their first married years were passed in the dis- 
trict of Ometepec, near the Pacific coast, where Don 
Jose had rented with his savings a small sugar 
"finca," on which he also opened a little shop, after 
the secular manner of Spaniards in Mexico. Later, 
he moved to the city of Oaxaca, where his two 
youngest children, Porfirio and Feliz, were born. 
Porfirio was three years old at the time of his father's 
death. His sister, Nicolasa, always entirely devoted 
to him, inherited many of her mother's qualities. She 
kept his house and guarded his children during his 
widowed period, remaining unmarried until some 



48 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

time after his marriage to Carmelita. Then, no 
longer young, she became the wife of one of his aides- 
de-camp and comrades in battle. 

His brother, Feliz, the father of Feliz Diaz of our 
day, was a short, swarthy, thick-built man, having 
none of the beauty of Don Porfirio, though he was 
also of an adventurous disposition, and gifted with 
courage and energy. He embarked early on a mili- 
tary career. He was taken prisoner by the French in 
their first engagement on Mexican soil, and later he 
w^as among the prisoners who accompanied the escort 
of the Condesa de Prim, wife of General Prim, from 
Vera Cruz to Mexico City. He had been wounded in 
the battle and was taken care of by the general's wife. 
He afterwards successfully made his escape by attack- 
ing a mounted guard and getting off on his horse. 

Later, when he was governor of Oaxaca, he was 
called to quell an uprising in the town of Juchitan, 
which then, as when I saw it in 1912, was giving 
ample testimony that what the Juchitecos best love 
is a fight. He fell into an ambush outside the riotous 
town and was murdered. 

At the time of his mother's death General Diaz was 
Military Governor of Tehuantepec. Being informed 
of her grave illness, he went on horseback, without 
a halt, to Oaxaca to embrace her a last time. He had 
barely reached home when a courier arrived with 
a message that a military crisis necessitated his 
immediate return to the Isthmus. Though the doctor 
told him his mother had but a few hours to live, at 
the call of country he relinquished the supreme and 
august privilege of holding her in his arms and re- 
ceiving her last sigh. The grief of that parting he 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 49 

never forgot, and late in life he would speak of it with 
undiminished emotion. It is typical of his patriot- 
ism. . . . 

So much has been said of Don Porfirio's irreligion 
that a word of his personal relations to the Catholic 
Church will not come amiss. 

His first marriage was performed by a priest of 
Oaxaca. His three children were baptized and sent 
to religious schools, his two daughters beiug educated 
in the convent of the Sacred Heart, which institution 
was established in Mexico during Don Porfirio's sec- 
ond presidential term. 

His marriage to Carmen Romero Rubio was con- 
secrated by Monsignor Pelagio de la Bastida, Arch- 
bishop of Mexico, in the Chapel of the Archiepiscopal 
Palace, an ancient edifice in the Calle de Perpetua. 
He also performed the marriage ceremony for Don 
Porfirio's elder daughter, Amada, when she became 
the wife of Don Ignacio de la Torre, the President 
assisting at the nuptial mass. 

On the death of Archbishop La Bastida, Monsignor 
Prospero Maria Alarcon became Archbishop of 
Mexico. He blessed the marriages of Don Porfirio's 
son and younger daughter, under like circumstances. 

These two prelates, men of great gifts in very 
dissimilar ways, were both personal friends of the 
President and his family. In fact Don Porfirio 
always showed the greatest courtesy in his relations 
with the bishops of the country. He looked on the 
Church as on all other things, with strict imparti- 
ality. He knew it to be the most durable of all human 
institutions, and recognized its greatness and allowed 
for its power. The bishops, in turn, knowing how 



50 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

ardent and convinced was his liberalism, and that he 
would always be careful to respect the form of the 
Constitution, wisely seldom asked impossibilities of 
him. 

Of the many names in Mexican "Independent" his- 
tory, four stand out : Hidalgo, Morelos, Juarez, Diaz. 
Their attributes are as definite as their names, and 
have been stamped for all time on their various 
generations. The last two were each in their differ- 
ent ways great, typic Liberals and followed, as do men 
of genius, the signs of their times. Liberalism was in 
the air they breathed. The first two men were priests.* 
The Zeitgeist of their times was "Independence" 
and they, too, followed it. It is certainly confound- 
ing to those who would givej casual judgments con- 
cerning the Catholic Church in Mexico that Hidalgo 
should have raised the first cry for freedom there and 
have been the first to put upon a banner "death to 
bad government." 

The role of Morelos, whose battle-cry was "Free- 
dom from Spain," was more complex, his motives 
more discussed. On freeing Mexico from what has 
been called the "Peninsular economic domination," 
it has been reproached him that he wrote : 

"Our only object is that the political and military 
Government by Spaniards pass to the Creoles." 

But into what hands should the country have 
been delivered? Certainly not as President Wil- 
son tried to deliver it a century later, into those 

^MigTiel Hidalgo y Costilla, born May 8, 1753, at Corralejos, 
Guanajuato, shot as a rebel against the Spanish Crown, July 31, 1811. 
Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, born at Valladolid, Michoacan, 
1765. Captured, tried and finally shot as a rebel against the Spanish 
Crown, December 22, 1815. 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 51 

of the unprepared eighty-five per cent. Indian and 
half-breed, from whom it would have been as prompt- 
ly and easily taken by the one-half of one per cent, as 
it was to-day by those representing our once incom- 
parable Carranza. The Creoles were the logical in- 
heritors, the next link in the chain, not the Indians. 

As to the so reviled domination of the priesthood, 
never in the most powerful days of Spanish and Church 
rule was such a system of bondage countenanced to 
terrorize, despoil and destroy the Indian as that in 
Yucatan in the 20th century of the syndicalism of Gen- 
eral Alvarado ; and the god of antiquity who devoured 
his own children is again about, for from Spain an- 
other domination than that of the Friars has come, in 
the guise of thousands of anarchists, who by fire and 
sword and many words continue to prepare the sal- 
vation of the Indian in the next world if not in this. 
The Friars, as everybody knows who is familiar with 
the landscape of Mexico, built pink and lovely 
churches with patios, warm, flowering, tree-planted 
and sun-bathed, where the Indian could bring his 
distresses, receive education, of a primitive order 'tis 
true, and often, not always, get his wrongs righted. 
And these churches resemble not at all the bare walls 
of the I. W. W. assembly rooms. 

The Mexican of all classes is essentially religion- 
loving, which is one of the reasons why the present 
regime of terror and persecution, of closed churches 
and banished priests and nuns is so disastrous. 

The attempt at the destruction in the human 
breast of a belief in a higher power, typified first in a 
small way in Mexico by the Carrancista church per- 
secutions, now become part of the Bolshevist world- 



52 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

program, assails something so inherent in man 
that doubtless he himself will be destroyed in his 
mad assault on the things of eternity. 

Ah! if there were no death, if man were not cut 
down like grass at evening, if there were no Reaper, 
if each one's night wherein he works no more were 
not his most certain end, one might perhaps experi- 
ment. But even then, who would not wish to con- 
sider at times things supersensual, supervisual, the 
precious Res Celestia? Whatever form it may take, 
worship is man's first, last and greatest right, and 

often his only real possession. 

« » « « 

Don Porfirio's private life, of which there are so 
many fantastic and calumnious accounts, was of the 
simplest and happiest. He found his pleasure in his 
family, and in the candid and natural joys it offered. 
He had little of the taste for cards or other games of 
chance usual to his race. He was often to be seen 
towards dusk, accompanied only by his wife, in the 
lovely park of Chapultepec, under the century-old 
ahuehuetes shading its broad calzadas; sometimes 
pausing under the great tree of story, the "arbol de 
Montezuma," which in addition to the glories of the 
Porflrian Mexico, had witnessed those of Montezuma 
and of the Spaniards. . . . 

To the end he preserved his great predilection for 
hunting and delighted in organizing shooting-parties. 
Quail, wild pigeons, snipe, rabbits, hares, abound on 
the Plateau,* and sometimes, too, he would slip out of 

* A Spanish diplomat, Don Jose Eomero Dusmet, now Minister to 
Bulgaria, a colleague of our first Mexican days, told me yesterday 
of one of the shooting-parties at which he assisted. 

The guests left Mexico City early in the morning in the presi- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 53 

the city for a few hours' shooting, accompanied only 
by a single aide-de-camp. Around Cordoba, too, he 
often went to stalk deer. It was traditional in the 
family that he should spend the greater part of Holy 
Week so engaged, returning for Easter Sunday with 
great quantities of venison, which he would distribute 
among his friends. 

His love of the chase dates from his earliest years, 
and there is a typical story of his boyhood, which 
he himself used often to recall, and which shows 
his natural constructive abilities. Impatient with 
the archaic sling and other like weapons and not hav- 

dential train, and were to make the once beautiful hacienda of Jalpa, 
belonging to Don Guillermo Landa Y Escandon, then Governor of 
the Federal District, their rallying point. After luncheon they went 
out again for snipe, and were caught in one of the usual afternoon 
deluges of the rainy season. In the train, on the way back to the 
city, Don Jose and Don Guillermo begged the President to get out 
of his wet things, as he had a servant and a change with him, but 
he refused — he a man of eighty — because the others could not do the 
same. 

The hacienda of Jalpa had been built by the celebrated Conde de 
Eegla, who had come into possession of the famous Keal del Monte 
Mine in the early part of the 18th century, and was so fabulously 
rich that he could quite conveniently lend the King of Spain a 
billion pesos, and give him several fully-equipped war-ships as well. 

The hacienda contained many works of ^rt, for besides the massive 
silver-services, and various paintings of the Spanish Masters, it was 
renowned for its priceless antique Chinese vases and French proee- 
lains, these latter having been bought by the grandfather of Don 
Guillermo, a man of vast wealth, in Paris, early in the nineteenth 
century. These were either smashed on the spot by Carrancista 
soldiery, or carried away by their officers to be sold, A few objects 
of special value were removed in haste, by what seem to have been 
experts, a,ppearing at the hacienda simultaneously with the entry of 
the Constitutionalist troops into Mexico City. Among these were the 
immense silver lamp before the altar of the hacienda chapel, bearing 
the date 1677, the Eibera above Don Guillermo 's bed, and a chair 
belonging to Cortes, which are known to have found their way to 
the border, after which all trace of them was lost. A great silver 
platter hammered out by hand, that Cortes ordered made for a 
Church vessel, alone has been preserved. For the rest, of the once 
splendid mansion and its many treasures, there now remain only the 
walls. E. O. S., January, 1920. 



54 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

ing money to buy a rifle, out of rusty parts of pistols 
and muskets, bought as occasion offered for a few 
pennies, and whicli lie himself put together in the 
forge of a friendly smith, he made his first firearm. 
It was out of as unpromising bits as these that he 
subsequently forged modern Mexico. 

He became very expert in the making of these primi- 
tive fire-arms, selling or giving them to the Indians 
of the Valle Grande, and he was a familiar sight 
seated before the door of his modest dwelling, busily 
combining the different parts of his muskets or trac- 
ing artistic designs on butt and barrel. 

He early delighted in all sorts of physical exer- 
cises. When a very young boy chance put a book 
on gymnastics into his hands. He proceeded to im- 
provise a little gymnasium in the courtyard of his 
mother's house, making the various kinds of 
apparatus himself, and finally even establishing a 
class. But best of all he loved to lose himself in 
the dense tropical prairies of Oaxaca, or explore its 
mountain fastnesses. These excursions, for which 
often his only opportunity was the night, gave him a 
close acquaintance with the native tribes, and fos- 
tered his inborn love of Nature and solitude. 
His habit of sleeping under the stars, his delight in 
adventure, his resource and courage in danger, his 
knowledge of the habits of birds and animals, made 
him adored by the Indians. This life, which he fol- 
lowed so instinctively, was to develop his magnificent 
muscular strength, temper his nerves to steel, and 
later enable him to support with ease the fatigues of 
the martial achievements that were so great a factor 
in his career. Doubtless it also aided him to pre- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 55 

serve to a great age a vigor known to few men. 
It was, too, an equally instinctive preparation for 
his incomparable strategic successes, for his inti- 
mate acquaintance with the Indians of southern 
Mexico gave him later the power to quickly recruit 
his armies, and train them for seemingly impossible 
feats. This magnetic control over the inhabitants of 
his native State was one of the secrets of Ms discon- 
certing mobility, of the cunning ambushes he laid for 
his enemies, enabling him so often to win victory 
over forces greatly superior in arms and numbers. 
To the Indians he was not only a dauntless chief, 
an incomparable leader, but embodied almost super- 
natural qualities, becoming to them as a god of war, 
a benign reincarnation of the god Huitzilopochtli of 
their ancestors. 

Brother-offtcers who, later, were to see him as the 
great administrator, calm, sure, prudent, farseeing, 
constructive, said of him that in combat he was like 
a lion. Over his being a great change would come, 
light would flash from his eyes, his nostrils 
would dilate, his lips would part, a bright color would 
lie upon his cheeks. Terrible, irresistible, invincible, 
they knew him for the heaven-born general and fol- 
lowed where he led. . . . 

As to money, his relation to which has been so 
little understood, though Porfirio Diaz knew it to be 
a vital necessity for the State, it was without mean- 
ing in his own existence. He had no personal wants, 
he accumulated no personal effects. He used only 
what was necessary for his being and his situation, 
without any accompanying sense of possession. He 
was never heard to say, "I would like to have this 



56 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

thing or that/' though he delighted in making little 
presents to the members of his family, and was al- 
ways thoughtful about fulfilling the desires expressed 
by those he loved. When he left Mexico, he left it 
with but the amount of money indispensable to a 
certain comfort and dignity, living modestly and 
restrainedly during the years of exile. 

This unreality of money was a mental and 
spiritual idiosyncrasy of his being. Everywhere 
about him were men passionately desirous of riches, 
but he himself was always immune from this ageless 
fever of mortality. 

After his glorious entry into Mexico City, he was 
literally penniless. 

To Juarez he had turned over the military strong- 
box, containing the sum of twenty-two thousand 
pesos, and an army equipped and armed.^ His only 
possession was the jeweled sword presented to him 
by the City of Mexico in recognition of his victories 
in the International War. This he found himself 
forced to take to a usurer in the Capital. He then 
turned his face southward to Oaxaca. Soon after- 
ward, however, the hacienda of La Noria was given 
him by his native State. From it he launched, in 
November, 1871, his famous "Plan de la Noria," sum- 
moning Juarez, between whom and himself the breach 
was complete, to put into effect the reforms promised 
by the Constitution of 1857. Later during a revolu- 

*To later-day Mexican generals this will be scarcely believable, 
or so stupid that a man showing such lack of understanding of the 
situation and the hour would be dead politically, considered incom- 
petent by friends and enemies alike, fit but for exile, the firing-squad 
or the madhouse. 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 57 

tionary upheaval, the estate passed out of his posses- 
sion, was piillaged. and finally sold into other hands. 
He never reclaimed it during his long years of power, 
when by simply raising a finger, that or anything else 
could have been his. 

In the days of his country's prosperity he was 
loaded with honors and decorations from the Powers 
and Principalities of the earth. In his reception of 
them, in his wearing of them, there was never a 
gesture nor an expression that dimmed his perfect 
modesty. He received them and wore them as if to 
Mexico they had been given, and his but the accidental 
form on which they hung. They represented, after 
long years of contempt and neglect on the part of 
the nations, her new greatness, were visible testimony 
to her new glory. The only decorations he held in 
honor were those gained on the field of battle in blood 
and danger of death. 

He was of a scrupulous neatness in his attire, but 
instinctively, without any preoccupation by it; his 
linen was always spotless and his uniforms well kept. 
This was part of his innate sense of suitableness and 
personal dignity. 

His treatment of his inferiors, of servants, was 
marked by an extreme kindness, and to those of long 
service he displayed a simple affection, preserving 
at the same time respect for his position. 

In Porfirio Diaz' heart was an immense yearning 
over his people. He was more than the friend of 
each, he was the father who labors for his children. 
He knew as far as is permitted to one finite man, the 
details of his government, as well as its great basic 
lines. It has been said, and with truth, that great 



58 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOKY 

wrongs were committed under liis rule, yet these 
were always without Ms knowledge. If a wrong 
could be brought to his attention, he righted it when- 
ever he had the unrestricted means to do so. It will 
be argued that he, being absolute, had in every case 
these means; but rulers are also servants, and any 
man at the head of a government, even one he himself 
has brought into being, cannot on all occasions see 
beyond the Chinese wall that his ministers, always 
lesser than himself, build about him. These he must 
inevitably serve. But in no instance can it be pointed 
out that abuse of power was for his personal advan- 
tage, or that he knowingly gave his consent to things 
harmful to his people. As far as the ponderous 
machinery of a great and prosperous government, be- 
coming more and more complicated as it grew, per- 
mitted, they had individual access to him, and where 
he knew facts he gave prompt and impartial judg- 
ment. 

It is the fashion, temporary as all fashions are, to 
rate the achievements of Poriirio Diaz not by the 
human standard, which would show him too great, 
but by some angelical measure. He was, like other 
rulers, mortal, and like them, what he administered 
was mortal, and even so great a man as he could not 
disprove the scriptural axiom that there must always 
be rich and poor, lowly and exalted, nor overcome 
nature's repugnance to equality. 

He was of iron constitution, and during long years 
knew nothing of the miseries of the flesh beyond 
wounds received' in battle. He always arose at five 
o'clock, bathed, took a cup of coffee and immediately 
passed to the business of the day. He never seemed 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 59 

to feel hunger; it was a matter of indifference to him 
after a long morning's work if he lunched at one, at 
two or at three o'clock. This abstemiousness was 
doubtless some heritage from his Indian ancestors, 
also in part was due to something naturally self- 
abnegatory in his being. It is recorded of him, too, 
that he ate with the greatest niceness, and that 
though his early life had been of the simplest, and 
afterwards much of it was spent in camps and battles, 
his manners at table would have befitted a prince. 

He was alike unaffected by extremes of heat and 
cold, and could endure easily fatigues crushing to 
other men. 

He was never vexed by trifles, nor was he visibly 
perturbed by misfortune. This dominion over him- 
self came in part from the admirable poise of his 
being, in part from the long habit of dominion over 
others. 

Even on the night of his final departure from 
Mexico City he was in full possession of his serenity, 
though all about him were hurried and distraught, 
and he himself just arisen, physically weak and 
broken, from his bed of pain. There were no outward 
marks of emotion when, with his wife, he got into 
the motor standing in front of the house in the Calle 
de Cadena, at two o'clock of that May morning, — the 
26th; nor when Huerta assisted him into the 
special train awaiting him at the station of the 
Ferrocarril Mexicano, nor even when, without 
whistle or word of command, it slipped quickly out 
of the dark station. 

But when aboard the Tpiranga in Vera Cruz 
harbor he had heard for a last time the voices of 



60 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Ms people, gathered, thousands, to greet him, when 
the . last hand-clasps had been given, the last 
"abrazos," and the Ypiranga had turned her prow 
to the open sea, he wept. 

And those venerable tears should have been 
caught in a golden cup by a whole people on their 
knees, those eyes wiped dry with the cloth of grati- 
tude and repentance, to be kept, cup and cloth, as 
long as the nation lasts. What will they ever find 
more sacred? 



CHAPTER IV 

Dictator of Mexico — The Revival of the Explosive Office of Vice- 
President — Diaz Chooses a Great Minister of Finance, Jos6 Yves 
Limantoiir — Unparalleled Prosperity — Ernesto Madero, Uncle of 
the "Redeemer" — The Single Meeting of the Maker of Modern 
Mexico with the Instrument of Its Destruction. 

It was in 1892 that all questions as to reelection 
ceased and Porfirio Diaz became Dictator of Mexico. 
He had led her out of the wilderness into green, very 
green places. 

The National Convention which nominaced him 
candidate, revived, however, a governmental corpse 
— that of the office of Vice-President. This was done 
by the enlightened and gifted group of young men 
who dominated the convention, with a view to cur- 
tailing the possibDities of revolution in the event 
of the death of Don Porfirio.^ 

But like all things human, and especially things 
human and Mexican, this had its disadvantages. Don 

^ Every man yet living of this group of farseeing and patriotic 
Mexicans is in exile. This toleration and even connivance, at the 
expulsion of the educated classes from Mexico by the United States, 
though one has heard about it ad nauseam, is still apparently so 
little understood, that one may be permitted to illustrate it in the 
following crudest of ways: It is as if the Emperor of Japan, having 
decreed the person and term of office of the President of the United 
States, furthermore gave the country into the hands of the "Reds" 
whom we now so industriously cast from us, while the members of . 
our Congress, the heads of banks, the founders of great industrial 
concerns and professors of Univei-sities were compelled to flee, leaving 
everything in the hands of an untrained, undisciplined mob. 
Yet this is what happened in Mexico, based on but one reason, the 
hatred of a foreign autocrat for the ruler of a people whom fate had 
placed in his power. 

61 

\ 



62 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Porfirio, from the first seeing that this office v/ould 
be the goal of passionate desires, awakening the 
always too-lightly sleeping envy, and engendering 
endless intrigue, had, after his simple yet genial way, 
suppressed the explosive office. It was only when 
time began to show its implacability in his own 
person that he conceded the matter. 

The Vice-Presidency seems to be a thorn in the side 
of every Latin-American President, and, to change 
the figure, as the heel of Achilles of every Latin- 
American Government. 

General Diaz was aware of this as early as 1877. 
He proceeded with extraordinary astuteness, and on 
the excellent principle of safety in numbers, to decree 
that the President of the Chamber, who was elected 
every month, be called on to fill the Executive office 
in case of the death of the President. Later this right 
devolved on the Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

During the greater part of the administration of 
General Diaz, this post was occupied by Don Ignacio 
Mariscal, one of the most faithful and intelligent 
collaborators any President of any country has ever 
possessed. He held this position for twenty-two 
years, becoming what one of the diplomats called 
"the dean of all the ministers of the world." Such a 
fact is testimony both to the man and to his country. 
He was further highly cultured, possessed of ani- 
mated and agreeable manners, and though not 
striking of stature nor feature, was a marked and 
unforgettable personality. 

It was largely at the instance of Don Jose Yves 
Limantour that the Vice-PreMdency was created; 
Don Ramon Corral being elected to the office. Don 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 63 

Ramon, whatever his private sins, always conducted 
himself with entire political and personal loyalty 
towards his illustrious chief. He was, too, for a while, 
popular with the country. Later his connection with 
the Cientiflcos, in addition to the destructive office of 
Vice-President, gave rise to a terrible campaign 
against him, culminating in the unanswered charges 
preferred by Madero in his "Presidential Suc- 
cession." 

Since then the Vice-Presidents of Mexico have 
either died with the President, or vanished into void 
at the psychological moment, or, more simply still, 
have never been drawn out of nothingness. At this 
moment "no hay." The procedure is of a discon- 
certing simplicity. . . . 

Don Porfirio having in his splendid years the finest 
flair for men's capacities, February of 1893 was to 
witness a special act of wisdom, for he then appointed 
Don Jose Yves Limantour Secretary of the Treasury 
and Public Credit. How admirably this man filled his 
office is known to the world. In the closing years of 
his dictatorship the Iron President saw more and 
more in Limantour the natural successor to the 
Presidency, one into whose careful and skillful hands 
the splendid thing known as modern Mexico could 
be entrusted, and there are many recorded conver- 
sations concerning the matter. There were two out- 
side difficulties (what enemies of Limantour's appar- 
ent destiny lay within his own being I cannot say). 
He was of French parentage; the other was his 
uncompromising war on what Mr. Bulnes calls 
"bureaucratic cannibalism." In Latin America, or 



64 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

anywhere for that matter, this alone would have pro- 
duced an army of enemies. 

His incumbency as Secretary of the Treasury, 
which was uninterrupted, led to the result that in 
1910 Mexico's foreign debt was quoted above par 
and many millions lay snugly in the Treasury. Before 
the outbreak of the Madero revolution, the bonds of 
the exterior debt were selling on the Stock Exchanges 
of London and Paris at a premium of 5I/2 per cent. 
So high was the credit of Mexico at that epoch, that 
Mr. Limantour was in Europe successfully arranging 
a conversion of the foreign debt to 4 per cent.^ 

It has been asserted, and the testimony has even 
been used to damn the Cientificos, of whom Liman- 
tour was the '^hief, that no Latin- American adminis- 
tration ever placed its country in the same credit 
rank as that enjoyed by Mexico during the financial 
rule of these reviled gentlemen. 

If to lead one's country into unparalleled paths 
of prosperity is criminal, then indeed they were crim- 
inal, caught by the world, red-handed, in the act. 

However, paciencia, "El Incorruptible" was com- 
ing. The Mexicans, in the strangest fit of national 
folly ever known, were to place in the hands of a 
man, who was to break them into a thousand bits, 
the precious works of wisdom. 

This man was Francisco I. Madero, whose political 
avatars are the quickest recorded in the history. 
Once "Redeemer of Mexico," "Bridegroom of Mex- 

* Though never in the history of Mexico have her fiscal receipts, 
through oil, and the world's need of it, been so great as now, the 
Carranza regime never even platonically discussed the payment 
of any kind of interest at any per cent on the National, or any other 
debt. 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 65 

ico," her "Apostle," her "chaparrito" even, in 

moments of extreme tenderness, he finally came to 
be known, sometimes as the "monkey of Coahuila," 
oftener as the "lunatic of Parras." And his death 
was even more disastrous to his country than his life. 
The hydra was a headless being in comparison with 
that "vengeance" of mixed and indigenous parentage, 
which sprang up and proceeded to destroy Mexico 
in his name, the role of "Vengador" having been 
played since by every villain in Mexico, and many 
just men in and out of it, leaving little or nothing 
for God to repay. 

The ultimate fact (and facts in Mexico resemble 
the seldom encountered white blackbird) concerning 
the finances of the Diaz administration in that Seiior 
Don Jos4 Yves Limantour closed his work by handing 
over 72,000,000 pesos ,in hard coin to Senor Don 
Ernesto Madero, his successor as Finance Minister. 

This clever and agreeable gentleman at that 
moment occupied the neat but also gaudy position of 
uncle to the "Redeemer," this position being sensibly 
brightened as the lily is gilded, by his becoming Sec- 
retary of the Treasury in the ad interim Presidency. 
From any point of view his situation could only be 
described as gorgeous. These 72,000,000 pesos in 
sounding coin were deposited in the National Treas- 
ury, in the Banco Nacional, and in various banks in 
New York, London, Paris, Frankfort, and could be 
seen by anybody at any time. This is how Porfirio 
Diaz and Jose Yves Limantour "served the Mex- 
icans." It will stand as a model of service for all 
time and its popularity will doubtless outlast that of 
some later models. 



66 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

President Diaz saw the "Redeemer" on a single 
occasion. It was after the publication of Madero's 
"Presidential Succession/' and an audience having 
been arranged, Madero went to the house in the Calle 
de Cadena and was ushered into the great man's 
presence. The conyersation between the Empire- 
builder and the instrument of its destruction took 
the following simple turn: 

Madero: "It is not against you but against your 
system that I am working. For you personally I have 
all respect, but the country is ready for democracy, 
and we must have unbiased elections, freely and reg- 
ularly held. It is time that you relinquish the power." 

Diaz : "Into whose hands do you counsel me to give 
it, Senor?" 

Madero: "Into the hands of an honest man. I," 
striking himself on the breast, "am an honest man 
{un liotnbre honrado)" 

One can imagine the look with which that incom- 
parable appraiser of men's abilities scanned the little 
man before him. 

Diaz: "Seiior, a man must be more than honest to 
govern Mexico." 

After which Madero took his leave, and the world 
is visiting the ruins. 



CHAPTER V 

Unconsciously Experimental Forms of Porfirio Diaz' Earliest Tears 
— He Studies for the Priesthood — His Mother's Grief When He 
Turns to the Law — Bugle-call to Arms — His Martial Glory — ^The 
Statesman — Mexico 's Greatness. 

The tentative, doubtless unconsciously experimental 
forms in which Don Porfirio's earliest years ran, are 
both interesting and enlightening. At fourteen he 
began his studies for the priesthood in the seminary 
of Oaxaca. This step was determined by the pious 
wishes of his adored mother, who desired above all 
things the sacerdotal life for this, her best-loved son. 
His acquiescence even for a time revealed something 
idealistic and self-abnegatory in his young being, 
and some inherent concern for things invisible in one 
afterwards so eminently practical in government. 

Two years later he was brought to the attention of 
Don Marcos Perez, an ardent Liberal and professor 
in the School of Law, which formed part of the Insti- 
tute of Arts and Sciences of the city of Oaxaca. He 
soon perceived the exceptional qualities of the young 
Porfirio, who was even then studious, brave and wise 
beyond his years, and set about to persuade him to 
give up his studies in the Seminary and enter the 
Institute as law student. 

Though the proposition of Don Marcos greatly 
attracted him, the thought of his mother's grief and 
disappointment made him long hesitate. 

er 



68 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Don Marcos finally invited him to assist at the 
annual distribution of prizes, when he presented him 
to the important personages taking part in the 
exercises. It was on this occasion that he was pre- 
sented to Benito Juarez, then Governor of Oaxaca. The 
relationship so begun was to be a determining factor 
in the career of both men. Diaz relates how on that 
very day he became conscious of an irresistible attrac- 
tion for the life of which he had so unexpectedly 
caught a glimpse. 

What he was to call in later years "the gi^eatest 
conflict of his life," then took place. The next morn- 
ing, pale with decision, after a night spent in fol- 
lowing the windings of the river Atoyac, he informed 
his mother of his desire to leave the Seminary and 
begin the study of law. 

"My mother gave me a look of infinite sadness. 
When I saw her tears and how bitter w^as her dis- 
appointment, I was dismayed. I told her that though 
every desire of my being drew me to the Institute, 
and that it was nothing that could disgrace her or 
make her lastingly unhappy, still if her heart were 
set upon it, I would become a priest. But she loved 
me greatly and was possessed of much judgment. 
After awhile her tears ceased, she embraced me in 
silence, and left the house to go to church. Later that 
same day she called me to her, and pressing me to 
her heart, told me that she realized that I must follow 
out the career for which I felt myself best fitted." 

It was thus that he passed to the study of law in 
the Institute of Oaxaca, impelled, doubtless, by some 
inherent love of justice, and interest in the manner 
of its application. This life, also, he was not long 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 69 

to pursue. He was the heaven-born general, and 
inevitably his genius led him in the paths of military 
events. When he was but seventeen the trumpets of 
the War of 1847 sounded through the land, stirring 
his young and ardent soul. But again following the 
advice of Don Marcos, he resisted the call to battle 
and continued his law studies, becoming clerk in the 
office of Perez, who was, however, shortly afterwards 
cast into prison in the convent of Santo Domingo, 
charged with plotting against the Government.^ 

Later the War of Refonu and the French Invasion 
were to reveal Porfirio Diaz to himself and to Mexico. 
By 1857 he had risen to the position of Jefe Politico 
of the District of Ixtlan. But civil war, the ardors 
of which had been dampened for awhiJe by the 
struggle with the United States, had broken out again 
and with renewed fury. He then gave up this 
position, corresponding so little to his real powers, 
and became captain of a company in the forces com- 

* Certain letters were found, written in cipher, implicating Don 
Marcos in the revolution. The young Porfirio, realizing the im- 
portance of acquainting him with the charges against him and the 
testimony of the other accomplices, resolved, at the risk of his life, 
to repay the affection that Perez had bestowed upon him, by pene- 
trating to the convent garden and climbing to the windows of the tower 
in which he was confined. He induced his brother Feliz to join him 
in the adventure. They provided themselves with a long rope, chose 
a dark night, and succeeded in scaling a 13-foot wall without being 
noticed by the sentinels, crossed the garden, climbed to the roof of 
the convent bakery and thence to a higher roof with the aid of their 
rope, and so on until they reached the top of the tower itself. While 
one of the brothers held the rope fast, the other let himself down to 
the level of the window of Perez's cell, 70 feet above the courtyard. 
After overcoming all these obstacles, the window was found to be 
closed and no communication with Perez was possible. But the young 
men had at least succeeded in reaching the window and knew where 
the guards were stationed. They made three more hazardous attempts 
during the nights followinor and finally succeeded in talking with 
Perez. As a result of the information he then obtained, Perez was 
able to defend himself so effectually against his accusers, that he was 
acquitted of the charges of conspiracy and his life was saved. 



70 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

manded by tlie liberal chief Lieutenant-Colonel 
Manuel Velasco, who was conducting operations in 
the State of Oaxaca against the revolutionary chief 
Jose Maria Salado. On the 13th of August of this 
game year, Porflrio Diaz received his baptism of 
blood, for on that day, at Ixcapa, near the Pacific 
Coast, the two armies met. 

Early in th*e co/mbat Diaz was wounded by a ball 
in his side. He fell to the ground. To the wonder of 
his comrades,, he wd's» seen shortly afterwards, his face 
shining with a strange whiteness, his uniform wet 
with blood, fighting in the foremost ranks. Sustained 
by a new and magical ardor, he was able to continue 
the struggle till victory was achieved. When he was 
carried unconscious from the field, the chieftain 
Salado lay dead with many of his men. 

The poorly equipped government forces having no 
doctor among them, Diaz was taken care of by a 
devoted Indian in the ranks, who accompanied him 
on a long and torturing muleback Journey across the 
mountains, from Ixcapa to Oaxaca. 

This was the first of the series of military victories 
which were to fling a lasting glory about his person 
and his country. 

These three stages, which I have so fleetingly indi- 
cated, were to leave each its mark upon his mature 
being. The spiritual longings of his adolescence 
were to reveal themselves later in a supreme love of 
country, in a clear realization of her needs and his 
responsibilities. His inclination for the law showed 
itself in the beautiful and fecund order he brought 
out of disorder, for he doubtless dispensed as much 
justice and prosperity to as great a number as the 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 71 

narrow limits of mortal life permit to any one man. 
His taking up of arms was followed by two splendid 
decades of martial triumphs, the glory of La Carbo- 
nera, of Miahuatlan, of Dos de Abril, of Puebla, of 
San Lorenzo, of Oaxaca, of the taking of Mexico 
City, were to hang forever visibly about him. 

In the battle of Miahuatliin, he commanded the 
forces against Oronoz and Testard. This latter was 
a natural son of General Forey; young and of great 
physical beauty, he was left dead upon the field. Diaz 
who happened to be passing where his body lay, had 
it buried with full idilitary honors. The dog belong- 
ing to Testard refused to leave the spot, lying with 
his nose close against his master's grave. Subse- 
quently Diaz sent the faithful animal together with 
all the little personal belongings found on the dead 
chief, officially to France to his family, saying as he 
commanded it to be done: 

"Those soldiers who fall in foreign lands die a 
double death. . . ." 

These were the years that made him strong, daring, 
inventive, resolute, undiscourageable, and wise in the 
things of humanity. From being one of the greatest 
military men of his day, he became one of the greatest 
statesmen and Empire-builders of all time. Now that 
the illustrious epoch is finished, sealed and safe in 
history, we begin to see its harmony and naturalness. 
Its brightest glory, its chief and most abiding use 
is that it showed to the world, and above all to the 
Mexicans themselves, their possibilities as a nation 
under a form of government suited to their idiosyn- 
crasies. What has been can be again. Were Porfirio 
Diaz to live once more, once more to lead his people 



72 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

out of their Egypt, his genius would show him new 
ways, new methods, suited to these our new times. 

And in the light of this man's wisdom and the 
splendor of his achievements, which corresponded so 
perfectly to the period of his country's evolution, how 
dark and cruel and disserviceable are the deeds of 
Mexico's men of to-day, and how sinister and destruc- 
tive the meddling of the United States in her destiny. 

That he was to watch, in exile, the fall of each 
pillar of the temple he had built, that his spirit 
wrapped in calumny and ingratitude must haunt a 
country in ruins, is to the everlasting shame of the 
men who made the ruins. 

"To be a sun and not irradiate the most beautiful 
rays, which are those before setting; to be a torrent 
and be constrained to finish in the waters of a stag- 
nant basin; to be an eagle that with broken wing 
contemplates the heavens; to see a tragedy hanging 
over his country, such as he had averteTi in his youth, 
and not able to remedy a single evil; that was his 
end. . . ." 

Don Porfirio was a consummate reader of men's 
hearts, and above all of the ends of their desires. The 
cold look of the oppressor, the gleam in the eye of 
the office-seeker, the uncandid and murky glance of 
the envious, the hesitating gesture of the man afraid, 
were to him as pages in a primer. Men of affairs who 
were received by him tell of the extraordinary sure- 
ness and quickness of his decisions. If he felt a man 
to be honest and his requests legitimate and useful, 
he immediately regulated the business on which 
the applicant had come. He would go into the next 
room, dictate a telegram or give an order, without 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 73 

any hesitation, rarely putting the matter off for fu- 
ture judgment. 

If he liad no confidence, he was still polite, but 
veiy brief ; the affair would not survive the interview, 
and was as without hope of issue as a man in the 
prison of San Juan Ulna. 

He was, too, of complete practicality in his 
decisions, academic discussions having little or no 
interest for him. He became more and more con- 
vinced as time went on of the value of foreign brains 
and capital in Mexico, desiring only to prevent a 
monopoly by any one Government. One of the oil 
pioneers told me of his initial conversation with Pres- 
ident Diaz, who quite frankly said he had several 
reasons for wishing him and his comrades success. 
First, he considered that men who left their own 
country, accepting the risks and hazards of labor in 
a foreign land, were entitled to help in the further- 
ance of their schemes, which were nearly always of 
mutual benefit. Second, that he realized the inesti- 
mable, educative value of foreign methods of work, 
and that by such illustration much could be accom- 
plished that he himself was unable to do for his 
people. 

It is thus that the wisest Mexican looked on the 
processes which his successors have so strangely con- 
demned, though from them Mexico draws to-day the 
very breath of her national and financial life. With- 
out oil, discovered by strangers within her gates, she 
would, at this moment, be the least among the nations 
of the earth. 

Diaz was of an extreme sensibility in spite of his 
iron deeds. In a recent testimony Mr. Edward L. 



74 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOKY 

Doheny, who has doubtless had more to do than any 
other man with the present riches of Mexico, even 
from the Mexican standpoint, tells of Diaz' visible 
emotion when he said that he never contemplated 
without deep sorrow his failure to bring good con- 
ditions to all the working-people of Mexico. 

The recital of any generous act would often bring 
tears to his eyes, and he sometimes said : "How is it 
that I, an old soldier, am so moved by such things?" 

I myself saw his eyes wet, though then he was 
mourning over the ruins of Mexico, as prophets of old 
wept over those of Jerusalem. 

If to maintain order in his country, whose com- 
ponent parts showed a continuous and intrinsic 
tendency to dissolution and chaos in the pursuit of 
"Liberty,^' Diaz had to strike hard, he did it, and 
'twas doubtless without hesitation that he sent his 
famous telegram to General Mier, "Strike while the 
iron is hot," which was the decree for the shooting of 
the principle Jefes of the revolutionary Junta in the 
Port of Vera Cruz on June 25, 1879. Later the bloody 
suppression of the Orizaba textile riots, was another 
example of his remorseless determination to preserve 
order. 

Late in life, at the critical moment, however, lie 
was to have an invincible repugnance to the shedding 
of blood. The life of one man, or of a few men, was 
above the life of the country. This was no longer 
statecraft but his manner of showing old age. In the 
fullness of his powers if, for the good of the country, 
the d^ath of a hundred disturbers of the peace was re- 
quired, he had never flinched in decreeing it. 

As a military chief he had possessed in their full 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 75 

ness, the four Ciceronian qualifications for general- 
ship: courage, technical skill, authority and luck. 
Later he translated these into his conduct of civil 
affairs ; for he was bold in his plans, attentive to the 
details of their carrying out, sagacious as to methods, 
prompt, very prompt in his decisions, and, being 
heaven-born, he was lucky. His accomplishments,^ 
during the long years of what may now be called the 
Porfirian peace, "an educational peace" he himself 
called it, are with every year more visible, though 
the knowledge of his achievements is only really 
complete when one looks at an electioneering sheet 
of the period, where nothing, of course, is omitted. 

^'Poca politica, mucha administracion^' was the 
keynote of his rule. He knew better than any one the 
blind, passionate personalism that distinguishes poli- 
tics in Latin-America, the disintegrating tendencies 
it furthers, the hatreds it fosters in its breast, and the 
destruction that is its natural consequence. Also that 
alone by peremptory decisions could he deal with it, 

* Mexico, "the treasure house of the world," could open her doors 
again in safety, enjoying her own riches a hundred-fold, and con- 
trib iting to the wealth of other nations. Vast facilities for transport 
were inaugurated during Don Porfirio's dictatorship, over 20,000 
kilometers of railways were constructed, running the length of the 
country, and the ports of Vera Cruz, of Coatzacoalcos, Salina Cruz 
and Manzanillo were entirely remodeled. Mexico City owes both her 
beauty and health to President Diaz, and the valley her health, if not 
her beauty. The admirable work of draining the valley, dreamed of 
and planned under the Viceroys, was finally carried out by him. 
The city, wliich during centuries was recurrently flooded at the rainy 
season, was also most unhealthy during the loiig dry months. He had 
sewers constructed, the streets paved and kept clean, and pure 
drinking water was brought from the springs of Xochimilco. Hos- 
pitals, asylums, schools, and new governmental buildings were gen- 
erously constructed, and throughout the length and breadth of the 
land, like reminders of his dictatorship still exist, resembling little 
the defaced buildings, the empty schools and asylums, the looted 
churches, the destroyed railways, broken bridges, flooded mines and 
untilled lands of his successors. 



76 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

especially in its most characteristic form of envy, that 
besetting sin of Latin-America, and worthy pendant 
of the Anglo-Saxon vice of hypocrisy. To envy is due 
much of the extreme personalism of Latin-American 
politics, and a trait so salient and so determining of 
action, merits some study. Mexico has been called 
^^un pais de cahezas/' a nation of heads, each 
individual man being convinced (unto death, if need 
be) that his way is the only way. Few political Mex- 
icans like each other, even when they are of the same 
party; and they always hate each other when they 
differ. Yet politics necessitate political parties and, 
even were it not so, there would be little joy in being 
segregated with one's own opinion, and nobody to 
fight. It is a cercle vicieux, and generally no way 
out save sudden death or exile, which oftener comes 
to Mexican politicians than to those of other 
countries. 

Knowing to the very marrow of its being, as only 
the man of genius can know things, that undisci- 
plined, heterogeneous, passionate mass of human be- 
ings, the Mexican people, in his wisdom Don Porfirio 
had never experimented with the cruelties of a senti- 
mental and unripe democracy. He did not even per- 
mit his people to destroy themselves in their own 
way, so familiar since to the student of "the Mexican 
situation." He knew how slow is the growth of a 
representative form of government, and how yet unfit 
they were to assume it. He chose the surer, prompter 
methods of paternalism, besto\\dng the blessings of 
peace on as many as were ready for it, and imposing 
it on those who were not. He continued, too, in spite 
of inevitable disillusions, to realize the value of the 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 77 

example of foreign methods of labor, seeming to be 
brought as by tlie ravens to Mexico at that time, 
but which now, alas for her, are shot at as unpleasant- 
habited vultures. 

One who reads histoiy even cursorily will discover 
that nations — the United States is an example — in 
pursuit of their national development, continuously 
welcome foreign money and foreign brains. In Mex- 
ico alone, through the usual distortion of facts so dis- 
concerting there, this is anathema, foreign brains and 
foreign money having become symbols of turpitude on 
one hand and of victimization on the other. 

The beauty, order, and naturalness of the Porfirian 
scheme needed, for full fruition, time — which respects 
nothing that is done without it. If like Noah Diaz 
could have lived, in full exercise of his powers, for 
750 years, he might have made desire for peace in- 
digenous even in the hearts of that one-half of one 
per cent, of his people, who when they find themselves 
in power seem congenitally to abhor it. 

He was wise enough to respect the letter anc' the 
form of the democratic government that circum- 
stance rather than intrinsic fitness have so strangely 
imposed on the Mexicans, but his genius colored and 
shaped it. As he breathed his spirit into it, it became 
something living and elastic, fitting needs and events. 
It is impossible to govern, or even vote intelligently 
without a knowledge of facts, and in Mexico few or 
none of these seem to exist. A Mexican, as well as a 
foreigner, must be heaven-born, a half-god, to discern 
any. To Don Porfirio's genius for facts is due the only 
period of prosperity that "Independent Mexico'' has 
known. The perception of these he was not, un- 



78 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

fortunately, able to transmit to posterity. His 
peace has been condemned as mechanical rather than 
organic, but I think in this year of disgrace, 1920, we 
are perhaps no longer so "nice" about adjectives 
applied to the Need of the World. 

Now the antics of the tragi-comic "democracy," 
about as normal to conditions as an iceberg in 
the harbor of Vera Cruz, the arrival in Mexico 
of some 10,000 anarchists, mostly Iberian, the 
unbridled greed and cruelty of that one-half of one 
per cent, of the population in the name of "La Con- 
stitucion," have destroyed his peace and his work. 
Even the illustrative, rather weather-proof meth- 
ods of the foreign investor are intermittently 
continued in storm and stress. So much for the ways 
of the "new men." Everybody is miserable. Even 
they themselves are exposed to the most horrid vicis- 
situdes, for one by one they are done to death in the 
back or stood before firing-squads. 

Since the world has been thrown into disorder even 
the blindest amongst us sees that order, not liberty, 
is the first necessity of society, and that the most 
beautiful attributes of liberty are the restraints that 
wise men put upon it. This Diaz realized at all times 
and in all places. To refuse recognition of the great- 
ness of his administration because every Mexican was 
not happy, is as if we should reproach the Presidents 
of the United States with the fact that all dwelling 
under the Stays and Stripes are not in the possession 
of felicity. We do not dream of placing to their per- 
sonal debit the fact that we permit child-labor, har- 
bor sweat-shops, endure slums in our midst, im- 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 79 

prison men because of their beliefs, or conduct our- 
selves in many ways according to the faultiness of 
mortality rather than the precepts of perfection. 

I am not sure that the deportations of the 
Yaquis, or the horrors of the Valle Nacional, once 
described in sucli high colors by Mr. Turner, are 
more heart-breaking than the misery of rooms not 
far from mansions in our great cities, where only a 
chalk line separates one family from another at be- 
getting, birth and death. Why should we be so 
proud? My own head is bowed nearly all the time, 
and the only reason I dare sometimes raise it, is that 
but lately. East, West, North and South, many men 
of many races have died gladly for an idea, loving 
something unseen more than visible life and joy. 

Even a casual survey of the Porfirian regime 
will reveal the great and simple reasons for 
its unparalleled prosperity. None of the practical 
means to success were neglected. Conditions, not 
theories, were studied, and behind all its brilliance 
was a supreme love of country, an undeviating direct- 
ness in her service. 

"And the land rested for thirty years." 

Fate puts a literal price on the head of him who 
achieves great things. The evolution of a man's quali- 
ties, beyond a certain point, always awakens the 
jealousy of Nature on the watch to say "Halt," to one 
who oversteps the human limits, be it through pride, 
by which the angels fell, or even through the instinc- 
tive exercise of the gifts she herself gave him in a 
generous moment. Mexico's greatest son, inevitably, 
inexorably, foredoomedly, was to be cast from her. 



80 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"Far, yes" (with a hand held out for the price), 
"but no further." 

And he who would not pay for glory must die early 
— and even then ! 



CHAPTER VI 

The Call from Exile to the Greater Fatherland — His Venerable 
Asheg Await in the Church of Saint ITonore d'Eylau the Hour 
of Their Return to Mexico. 

It was in Paris, at six o'clock on the afternoon 
of the 2nd of July, 1915, that Porfirio Diaz passed 
from exile to the greater Fatherland. So gentle was 
his last sigh that the companion of his splendid years 
and of his banishment, who held him in her arms, 
could not believe she was alone. 

There was no agony; for months he had been fail- 
ing, visibly, surely, as a being fails that finds no 
nourishment for its life. He had no definite illness, 
his splendid organism was unimpaired ; nostalgia was 
consuming him. The fifth year of his exile had begun. 
It was too long. 

For days before he died he could not speak because 
of weakness, and he took scarcely any nourishment. 
But his eyes, brilliant to the last, would rest on his 
wife with the tender devotion he had always shown 
her during their long, unseparated life of heart and 
body. He never spoke to her of the death he knew 
was approaching. To the last his supreme solicitude 
permitted no mention of the grief awaiting her, that 
his own love enabled him to fully measure. 

He never complained of his exile, neither did he 
show the slightest impatience at its finality, though 
he sometimes sighed for '^algo de Oaxaca" something 

81 



82 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

of Oaxaca. Who shall say what symbol, bird, plant 
or flower lay in his desire? "^^Es un sol pintado/' it is 
only a painted sun, he would often say of the French 
sun, and the landscapes and horizons in grisaille^ so 
beautiful to us of the north, lacked to him an essential 
warmth and color. Enfolded by Oaxaca's thick, dry- 
heat, by its lustrous air, he would have lived another 
decade. He was of the stuff of centenarians. 

Several weeks before he died, when it was clear to 
all save his wife, that he was fading out of existence, 
a priest of Mexico, Carmelo Bley, at that time in 
Rome, who had been a friend of Carmelita and of 
her mother before her, came to Paris to bring the 
consolation of common memories and of a common 
hope. Then Porflrio Diaz washed his soul in the 
Sacrament of Penance and partook of the Holy Com- 
munion. 

« « « « 

In this he but did as the greatest of the Ancients, 
who also prepared himself for the last journey by 
prayers to the gods, for, when at sunset he took the 
hemlock bowl from the hand of him who brought it, 
he asked: — "Is it not permitted to make a libation 
with a little of this draught?" And when it was 
answered him that only what was necessary for his 
death had been brewed, he said : — "So be it. But at 
least it is just and fitting to address, at my last 
moment, prayers to the Gods that they bless my jour- 
ney and render it propitious. This, then, is what I 
ask of them. May they grant my prayers." And he 
put the cup to his lips. And even as Phsedo said to 
Echecrates, when he had finished the precious recital 
of the last day of Socrates : — "He was the wisest and 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 83 

most just of men," so that priest, in tears, said, as he 
left the room wherein the soul of Porfirio Diaz was 
so soon to be separated from its body : — ^'^Es un justo/' 

His heart had held no rancor, nor any desire for 
vengeance ; it was not even necessary for him to "for- 
give his enemies." Both justice and mercy were 
known to him. In the strict impersonality of his 
soul, he had hated no man for any reason that con- 
cerned himself, which is the supreme virtue of a 
ruler. He never said : "I will do thus and so, because 
I like this man, or because I dislike that one." His 
single thought had been "Will he or will he not be 
useful to the country in this or that circumstance?" 

During his exile men gaining access to him would 
try to speak to him of those who had betrayed him, 
and tell him how it had been done, but he would stop 
them saying: 

"What can it matter to me personally by whom and 
how it was done? The country is lost. That alone 
matters." 

Even his wife was never to hear from his lips a 
word of reproach concerning any man. 

In the days of power he had 1been above the hatreds 
of enemies, above those, more terrible still, of friends. 
In the days of exile, his soul, which had preserved 
its full serenity, continued to be inaccessible to them. 

In the victories of peace, though stern, he was 
always restrained, pursuing no evil-doer with his per- 
sonal wrath. In the victories of war, once the end 
assured, he was magnanimous, and an example to 
victors for all time, as when he said, concerning the 
French and Austrian prisoners of the War of Inter- 
vention : 



84 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"They have but obeyed orders, as I would have 
obeyed the orders of my Chief. Let them keep their 
swords," 

His country's star arose with his ; when his had set, 
it too disappeared, and there was darkness. . . . 

As he lay in final quiet on that last and narrowest 
of all beds, his son flung over him the green and white 
and red flag of the "Tres Garantias" that he had so 
often carried to victory, both in war and in peace. 
Then without that blare of trumpet or beat of drum, 
which, had he passed down the great Avenue of the 
City he so loved, would have called the sons and 
daughters of Mexico to gather with folded hands and 
bowed heads, he was taken to the church of St. 
Honore d'Eylau. In its crypt his ashes await the 
hour when the passions of the people whom he loved, 
as a gifted and wayward child is loved by his father, 
shall have abated. 

For a lustrum now his wife has gone every 
morning to pray by his bier, and sometimes I have 
thought it is this continued intercourse with one who 
is no more which gives her a look of other-worldli- 
ness; something clarified and almost virginal hangs 
at times about her, who for more than thirty years 
was an adored wife. She mourns him as she loved 
him, after the Spanish way of love and mourning, 
intense, intransitive and perfectly exclusive in its 
fidelity. 

The ship that one day will carry his venerable dust 
to Mexican shores will return to them the greatest 
riches any country can receive, the treasure of good 
tradition, the reminder of a glory that having been, 
can be again ; for however blindly the nations try to 



PORFIRIO DIAZ 85 

foreswear and disown the heritage of their past, as 
foolish sons squander the goods of their fathers, it 
remains their greatest weal, their most abiding 
strength. 

And the place where Porfirio Diaz lies at last will 
be to Mexico's sons and daughters a holy place of 
pilgrimage. 



PART TWO: FRANCISCO LEON DE LA 
BARRA 

QUERETARO: JUNE l6, I863 — 

El Presidente Blanco 



PART TWO: FRANCISCO LEON 
DE LA BARRA 

"El Presidente Blanco" 



CHAPTER VII 

My First Sight of Francisco Leon de la Barra — An Appreciation — His 
Brief Visit to Mexico City, September, 1910 — His Audience witli 
President Taft, March 23, 19il — Return to Mexico — Minister 
for Foreign Affairs — President Diaz Falls 111 — The Ciudad 
Juarez Convention, May 21, 19al. 

The magnetic use Chance makes of men's qualities 
is what imi)resses me as I consider this chapter in a 
life, this episode in a nation's destiny : the ad-interim 
Presidency of Francisco Leon de la Barra. 

I saw him for the first time from a distance, but 
at tlie climax of his career, on the afternoon of May 
25, 1911, as he drove back from the Chamber of 
Deputies after taking his oath' of Supreme Office. 

I was standing on the balcony of our house in the 
Calle Humboldt, whence I could see his carriage 
cross the broad Plaza de la Reforma and pass the 
bronze equestrian statue of Charles IV. He was 
sitting veiy straight, and looking very pale and com- 
pletely Aryan amongst tlie highly-colored populace 
that acclaimed him. Across his breast was the red 
.and white and green sash of Iiis exalted office. He 
rode in the shining equipage, with its princely liver- 
ies, that but the day before had belonged to the Iron 

89 



90 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

President. He was accompanied by the glitter- 
ing, galloping outriders, their white plumes floating 
from their shining helmets, who had been wont to 
accompany him, who at that moment was lying ill, 
broken, rejected, in the abyss that separated him from 
the vast accomplishments of his life and the final 
praise of history. 

The carriage disappeared down the broad Paseo to 
shouts of "Viva de la Barra," followed by cries of 
"Viva Madero!", "Viva el Apostol." 

I thought of Mr. de la Barra then as public opinion 
voiced him, a suave, cultured, useful man of more 
than ordinary tact, belonging to no political party, 
who for the greater portion of his life had lived out 
of his country, who had no encumbering afflliations, 
who, in a word, would "do- and do well. 

When he had finished his "Interinato" bearing the 
name of "El Presidente Blanco," relinquishing it, 
with nothing warmer nor redder than a handshake to 
the then undiagnosed visionary called the "Man of 
Destiny," I began to suspect him of other qualities 
than those so apparent. Now long acquaintance^ has 
proved him appreciative of all superior things, con- 
sistent in act, finishing what he begins, astute in 
judgment, faithful in personal relations, and as kind 
as humanity in its governmental aspects permits a 
man of political career to be. In his family relations 
he is a model of affectionate courtesy and solicitude, 
and "manana" is not in his vocabulary. He is a man 

"•During the highly educative years of the Great War I saTV 
much of Mr. de la Barra, who has lived in Paris, since his departure 
from Mexico. It is this closer acquaintance with him that has made 
me appreciative of further qualities underlying those apparent onea 
that distinguished him when I knew him in Mexico. 



FRANCISCO LEON pE LA BARRA 91 

in fact whose qualities of judgment and perseverance 
permit his conquest of circumstances, and in turn the 
use of him by events. The knowledge of all these 
things gives me an insight into a personality that pre- 
sents few of the so-called Mexican characteristics. 

This was the man, Ambassador to Washington at 
the height of his country's prestige, who made a short 
visit to Mexico during the Centenaiy Celebrations. 
He found himself on the 6th of September, 1910, 
lunching with the President, then in full apotheosis, 
at the Castle of Chapultepec. After luncheon, at 
which were present, besides the lovely wife of Don 
Porfirio, Don Pablo Escandon and Don Ramon Alca- 
zar, the party went out on the castle terrace. One 
can picture the President and his successor, linked by 
destiny, diverse in mind, in body, in each and every 
attribute. The bearing of the Iron President was 
imposing and martial even in peace; and, when the 
knell of his eightieth year was about to sound, his 
piercing and beautiful eye turned continually towards 
the matchless valley, glittering in one of those dia- 
mond-like September noons, peculiar to the Plateau. 
The city he had beautified lay at his feet, the vol- 
canoes and the mountains alone were unchanged by 
his will, for even the valley he had drained and modi- 
fied for greater use. All was inhabited by a people 
that his strength and wisdom had exalted among the 
nations of the earth, whose envoys, gathered from the 
four winds, were assembled to celebrate the glory of 
Mexico. 

Mr. de la Barra, at that time forty-three years of 
age, in full career, alert, fresh-complexioned, hair 
and mustache whitening early, immaculately dressed 



92 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

in mourning garb for his first wife, was the diplomat 
of story in appearance and in manner. 

He had been for a year and a half Ambassador to 
Washington, from which perspective the clouds gath- 
ering in the Mexican horizon were, to the weather- 
wise, somewhat disquieting, though the force of the 
"redemptory" hurricane then gathering no one sus- 
pected. It had been thirty-five years since any one 
had tried to "redeem" or "liberate" the Mexicans, or 
even "serve" them; but the reading of history is 
unfortunately no more instructive than the experi- 
ences of one's parents. . . . 

After a few days in the Capital, Mr. de la Barra 
returned to Washington. The situation developed 
rapidly in the ensuing months. Mr. Limantour, at that 
time in Europe, was recalled by President Diaz. He 
took passage via New York, where he was awaited 
with the greatest impatience by the Madero group 
who hoped to make an early and favorable compro- 
mise with the Porfirista government. 

It was then that the name of Mr. de la Barra was 
proposed as Minister for Foreign Affairs, with the 
understanding that on the resignation of President 
Diaz, he would become President ad interim. 

Mr. Limantour, alarmed by the gathering force of 
the revolution and fearing American intervention, 
that determining ghost in Mexican politics since 
Maximilian, shortly continued his journey back to 
Mexico. He was accompanied to the station by the 
father of Madero and other members of the family 
then in New York. Hope was in the "apostolic" air. 

On arriving in Mexico City he was received im- 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 93 

mediately by General Diaz, going from the station to 
the Palace. 

In the conversation which ensued Mr. Limantour, 
fully informed as to the Madero strength, potential 
and actual, stated in substance the following to the 
President : "Your continued presence at the head of 
the government can only give rise to further troubles 
and disasters, even to intervention by the United 
States. My advice to you is to present your resigna- 
tion." 

Deeply impressed by the words of his Minister of 
Finance, Don Porfirio immediately decided to resign 
his high office. 

It was then that he made his historic answer : — 

"I could control the revolution; but I will not do 
it for it would necessitate the shedding of blood, and, 
more important than all, it might perhaps endanger 
the independence of Mexico. I had thought that my 
holding of the Supreme Power was with the consent 
and approbation of my countrymen. But if this is 
not so, they must have the master that they choose 
and I must resign." ... 

Immediately afterwards, the Government began to 
treat with the revolucionarios. . . . 

On the 23rd of March, 1911, Mr. de la Barra 
received three telegrams, one from General Diaz him- 
self, another from Mr. Creel, and one from Mr. 
Limantour, informing him that he was appointed 
Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

That same aftenioon, having made up his mind 
that he must accept, he telephoned to the White 
House. 



94 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Mr. de la Barra's decisions are always rapid and 
followed by the corresponding act, another quality 
which distinguishes him from the large majority of 
his compatriots, whose decisions and their consequent 
acts are apt to be quick only when it is a question of 
flight or execution. 

An appointment was made at the White House for 
late that afternoon. On arriving he was received by 
Mr. Charles D. Norton, who ushered him into the 
small private offtce of the President, in the new wing 
giving directly on the lawn, still covered with late 
snow. He found there both President Taft and Sec- 
retary Knox, who received him most cordially. 

He stated the reasons for asking for an immediate 
audience. 

"When are you going?" was the President's first 
question. 

"To-morrow at noon," he answered. 

There was a slight pause which President Taft 
broke to say suddenly: 

"I think, Mr. Ambassador, that you will at no 
distant date find yourself President of Mexico." 

Mr. de la Barra answered: "But no, I am not a 
politician. I have lived all my official life out of 
Mexico. They will want another type of man." 

Upon which Mr. Knox said with a smile: "We 
need not speculate upon it now, — time will show." 

Mr. Taft continued: — "It wall perhaps be as well, 
however, to base our discussion upon that prob- 
ability." 

Then was begun a conversation lasting an hour 
and a half mainly concerning the problems of 
the relations between the two countries, though both 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 95 

the President and Mr. Knox were fully alive to the 
many interior difiiculties as well, which awaited Mr. 
de la Barra as head of the Mexican Cabinet. The 
growth of the revolutionary party was already 
apparent by shots across the border, as well as by 
those loudly echoing throughout Mexico, and the 
extraordinary contagion of the "Madero idea" deter- 
mined all situations. 

President Taft, with the courtesy which he always 
brought to any discussion, expressed his pleasure and 
satisfaction at having as a personal friend the man 
with whom the important and delicate matters pend- 
ing would be discussed, and told Mr. de la Barra that 
he could telegraph him directly concerning any dif- 
ficulties that might arise, adding : — "You may be sure 
that I will help you in every way compatible with 
justice, and the interests of the United States." 

The rather delicate fact of the mobilization of the 
American troops on the Mexican border was touched 
on, but I gather that, in regard to it, the three states- 
men followed carefully the French maxim: "Glissez, 
n'appuyez jamais." 

The President reminded Mr. de la Barra, however, 
that he had declined, without Mexican consent, to 
order a troop of cavalry across the border to protect 
the breakwater that Americans were constructing 
at the mouth of the Rio Colorado, in an endeavor 
to save the Imperial Valley. The Chamizal claim, 
involving a part of the city of El Paso, was discussed, 
and they also spoke at length concerning Magdalena 
Bay, whose harbor, one of the finest on the Pacific 
coast, will forever be an object of desire for several 
countries. It would seem that in direct proportion 



96 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

to the beauty and usefulness of the natural conforma- 
tions of the earth, the envy and greed of the nations 
are aroused. 

The El Paso rencontre of the year before was men- 
tioned where, on his return from California, President 
Taft met President Diaz. The interview had been 
unfortunately most formal. Mr. de la Barra himself 
was not present, having been called to Paris by the 
grave illness of his wife. The potentialities of the 
meeting were great, but some necessary, unifying, 
quickening process had been absent, and it had 
reduced itself to a conventional exchange of good 
wishes between the two Presidents. Mr. Taft not 
speaking Spanish, nor Don Porfirio English, they had 
been further separated by the formalities of an 
interpreter. 

Probably the most definite result was a photograph 
taken on the Mexican side of the International bridge. 
The photograph, which was sent broadcast through- 
out Mexico, bore the caption '''Two Great Presidents 
of the Two Great Republics of North America." Both 
Executives were in evening dress, flanked by an aide 
de camp in protocolic garb. Don Porfirio stood 
straight as a die, his face bearing its usual expres- 
sion of stern serenity, while Mr. Taft's wore its wonted 
kindly smile. To a people with an eye for externals, 
the contrast was symbolic, but misleading. . . . 

From time to time during the White House inter- 
view, President Taft would emphasize his appreciation 
of the difficulties awaiting Mr. de la Barra on his 
return to Mexico, repeating: "I shall always stand 
for the maintenance of good relations with your coun- 
try." 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 97 

What one gathers to have been in the nature of 
agape terminated by President Taft presenting to Mr. 
de la Barra a large photograph bearing the most 
appreciative of dedications, and asking one of his 
in return. This photograph was subsequently stolen 
(probably for the sake of the frame rather than the 
image) together with nearly everything Mr. de la 
Barra possessed from his house in Mexico City, when 
the country had been thoroughly saved by the 
"Messiah." 

As the three statesmen stood talking at the door of 
the Executive ofiftce, President Taft said to him again 
with a smile : 

"Mark my words, you mil soon find yourself Pres- 
ident of Mexico." 

The farewells were cordial, even affectionate, 
though lacking the "abrazo," of course, that would 
have closed the scene in another latitude. . . . 

Arriving at the Buena Vista Station in Mexico City, 
Mr. de la Barra was received by Mr. Limantour, Mr. 
Creel and the son of the President, Don Porfirito. 
From that moment until his final departure (flight, 
or escape, in 1913) Francisco Leon de la Barra 
played leading roles in the drama of his country. . . . 

On the fourth of April he called a Cabinet Meeting, 
when he gave an expose of the relations between 
Mexico and the United States, telling of the very 
understanding friendship and cordial goodwill shown 
by both President Taft and his Secretary of State 
at the farewell inteiwiew. Passing then to interior 
and urgent matters, he admitted that though the 
government of Don Porfirio possessed the force, the 
revolution seemed to have public opinion on its side, 



98 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

and lie suggested that an endeavor be made to recon- 
cile the old facts with the new opinions. 

From November, 1910, in hard contrast to the 
dazzling glories of the Centenary celebrations, revo- 
lutionary sounds of no uncertain caliber had been 
heard from time to time in Puebla, echoing through- 
out the North. The public in general, however, 
gave them small attention. The Iron President had 
always promptly nipped in the bud any blossoms 
of disorder, and doubtless would continue to do so. 
But the banner of the revolution was a "trouvaille." 
The Mexicans excel in their manufacture above all 
nations of the earth, and a people w^anting, they knew 
not why, a change, could not resist the glitter of "Su- 
fragio Efectivo y no Reeleccion" embroidered on the 
still more attractive background of the distribution 
of lands. The United States as well, with the now 
demonstrated lack of continuity of democratic insti- 
tutions was for a change. It was not taken into 
account if the change were for the better or the 
worse, just a change — any change — was wanted. 

Madero, the man whoni the crowd was acclaiming 
as the Apostle of "free government" (whatever that 
may mean) over against government by a dictator 
had been in jail for some months in the Penitenciaria 
of San Luis Potosi. In October, 1910 (his imprison- 
ment being preceded by many dramatic adventures, 
hiding sometimes from the wrath of the government, 
enjoying sometimes a personal homage from the 
crowd unknown even to the Iron President), he had 
been released on bail of 8,000 pesos. 

Since then he had been almost exclusively engaged 
in sowing dragon's teeth the length and breadth of 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 99 

Mexico, in the shape of promises of everything to 
everybody, and which, even after they began to crop 
up, took on for a time in the landscape the misleading 
aspect of Manna. . . . 

Another and fatally determining factor of the 
situation was that early in May President Diaz fell 
ill of blood-poisoning, after the fracture of the jaw- 
bone caused by the clumsy extraction of two infected 
molars. Some attributed his illness to a simple act 
of God, others to the more complicated machinations 
of enemies. However tliat may be, for days he lay in 
danger of death. Shortly before his malady had fully 
developed, but when he was already consumed by 
fever, his brain deadened by frequent injections of 
morphine necessary to allay the excruciating pain, 
Don Jose Yves Limantour, alarmed at the terrible 
momentum of events, counseled him to enter with- 
out delay into some sort of negotiations with the 
leaders of the revolutionaiy movement, and at the 
same time to change his cabinet. This he did. Un- 
fortunately, the masses took it as a sign of weakness, 
not appreciating the profound patriotism of the Presi- 
dent's attitude, and an immense prestige was im- 
mediately flung about the motives and aims of the 
revolution. It was the first direct step of the maker 
of Modern Mexico towards death in exile. 

By the middle of May the revolutionary kettle was 
at boiling point. 

On the 21st of May, there met, in the extremely 
unpicturesque building of the Customs at Ciudad 
Juarez, Francisco S. Carvajal, representing the Diaz 
government, Francisco I. Madero, Jose Maria Pino 
Suarez, and F. Vasquez Gomez, representing the 



100 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

revolution. Then was drawn np the covenant accord- 
ing to which Don Porfirio was to resign before the 
end of the month, as well as the Vice-President, Don 
Eamon Corral, whose "press" had gone from bad to 
impossible. Even with the hand of death visibly laid 
upon him, no one wanted him. Francisco Leon de la 
Barra, actually Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the 
Diaz Government, was to be charged with the Pres- 
idency ad interim of the United States of Mexico. 
Hostilities between the forces of the Government of 
General Diaz and of the revolution were to cease, 
and general elections would be arranged for accord- 
ing to the clauses of the constitution. 

Now practically nothing had been heard of "La 
Constitucion" for some thirty years, but as the coun- 
try had steadily progressed in paths of unaccustomed 
prosperity without it, it would seem to the innocent 
bystander that it might just as well have been left 
in its unsullied .obscurity. 

Like the happiest woman, it had no history. The 
date of its birth and a somewhat difficult infancy, 
were all that was known of it. But by some strange 
contradiction, the least amorous of apostles was to 
seek it out and woo it on the highways. The book of 
its subsequent career is not for general and family 
use. 



CHAPTER VIII 

President Diaz Writes the "Kenuncia" — His Last Hours in Mexico 
City — The Parting from His Successor. 

Don Porfirio wrote and signed the fateful and fatal 
"Renuncia" ^ when he was in physical agony, the dark 

* The resignation of President Diaz reads as follows: 

"Mexico, May 25, 1911. 

* * The Mexican people — the people who so generously loaded me with 
honors, who proclaimed me as theij* chief in the international war, 
and supported me patriotically in all the work undertaken for 
strengthening the industry and commerce of the EepubUc, for found- 
ing its credit and for gaining the respect of friendly nations and 
occupying a decorous position among them; — this People, gentlemen 
of the Chamber, has now risen in insurrection, and thousands have 
banded together and armed themselves, declaring that my presence 
in the exercise of the supreme executive power is the cause of the 
revolt. 

"I know of nothing that I have done to warrant this social up- 
heaval, but, granting that I may be unconsciously culpable, though 
without admitting it, this very possibility forces me to the con- 
clusion that I am of all people the least qualified to reason and decide 
as to my own guilt. Therefore, respecting, as I have always re- 
spected, the will of the People and in • conformity with Article 82 
of the Federal Constitution, I come before the Supreme Representa- 
tive Body of the Nation to resign without reserve the office of Con- 
stitutional President of the Republic, with which I was honored 
by popular vote. I do this with the greater reason because, in order 
to retain my high office it would be necessary to continue shedding 
Mexican blood, lowering the credit of the Nation, demolishing its 
wealth, exhausting its resources and exposing it to international 
conflicts. 

"I hope, gentlemen of the Chamber, that when the passions that 
accompany all revolutions subside, a more conscientious and care- 
ful study of the facts will lead to a correct judgment in the mind 
of the Nation, so that I may die, conscious in the depths of my 
soul of a just and fair appreciation of the devotion to my fellow 
countrymen, which I have maintained throughout my whole life and 
will never cease to cherish. 

"With all respect, 

"PoRFiEio Diaz." 

101 



102 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

door of death ajar; his indomitable will, working 
instinctively, alone enabled him to accomplish fitting- 
ly the sacrifice. 

Thus was completed the last official act of this man, 
who, by the alchemy of his wisdom, by the working of 
his will, had transmuted bandits into statesmen, 
destroyers into constructors, disintegrating indi- 
vidualism into national union, foreign debts into a 
world-credit system. He is probably the most con- 
spicuous example in history of a man in his single 
lifetime, making his country great out of such ele- 
ments. I have sometimes thought, studying his 
visage, both in picture and in memory, how clearly 
wisdom had revealed itself in that direct yet visioned 
look of his beautiful eye, and how the will that 
molded Mexico to use and greatness had been testi- 
fied to in the stern yet pitying lines about his mouth. 
Throughout the ages, doubtless like expressions have 
lain on the countenances of the builders of nations. 
I will have seen but one of them, and that one in 
exile, — his work consummated, and also destroyed, 
but he is unforgettable. And as he passed over the 
bitter waters, and through the Ebon Port, Mexico 
followed him, — and she, unlike him, is not yet 
arisen. . . . 

The Vice-President, Don Ramon Corral, then in 
Paris, was increasingly ill of a cancer in the pancreas, 
which after being operated on, was found to be in- 
curable. He had already sent his resignation to Mr. 
de la Barra through a friend, asking him to withhold 
it until that of Don Porfirio was ready. After receiv- 
ing it, Mr. de la Barra kept it locked in his desk for 
several days, aw^aiting that of the Iron President. 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 103 

But with his own power and might Porfii-io Diaz 
also signed away the power and might of his country, 
and her glory, in conformity with the mysterious will 
of the blind and passionate race he had so long gov- 
erned after the only manner that could bring them, 
in spite of tliemselves, to prosperity, — "Poca politica, 
much a administracion" — "Little politics, much gov- 
ernment." 

When one considers the epithets applied to politics 
in all quarters of the globe, even by politicians them- 
selves (who certainly know what they are talking 
about), the man who could in any way exorcise this 
supposedly necessary evil, and at the same time main- 
tain his position, was certainly possessed of supreme 
gifts. 

Immediately after the signing of the "Renuncia" 
Mr. de la Barra had been summoned to the house in 
the Calle de Cadena. He found the maker of Modern 
Mexico sitting in an armchair in one of the big salons. 
Two men besides Mr. de la Barra were present, 
Licenciado Carlos Saavedra, President of the Cham- 
ber of Deputies, into whose hands a few minutes later 
the resignation was given, and a secretary who ac- 
companied him. Saavedra, destined from all time to 
be the bearer of one of the most disastrous messages 
in history, was a man in the early forties, alert, with 
a clever eye, whose political career was just begin- 
ning to take form. Periodically the Presidency of 
the Mexican Chamber of Deputies changes; he hap- 
pened at that moment to be occupying the position. 

After his departure there was silence in the room 
— one of the great silences of history. Tlie past was 
as dead as if a centuiy instead of a quarter of an 



104 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

hour had slipped by. Finally Don Porfirio made a 
slight gesture as of one relinquishing what was no 
longer his to keep. 

Then he looked long at his successor, scrutinizing 
as it were what he himself had been in its new form. 
What his thoughts were, who shall say? 

Many great men have been betrayed by a single 
friend, and the "et tu Brutus" has sounded but too 
often through the ages. Many have been vanquished 
by enemies; others have been done to death by mobs- 
Few men have been betrayed by their nation. The 
greater the power the greater the hurt. 

When he at last spoke it was simply to say : 

"I have already given orders concerning my jour- 
ney to Vera Cruz to-night, but as this afternoon you 
will be President of Mexico i beg you to confirm them 
to General Huerta." 

A few moments later Mr. de la Barra took his de- 
parture. 

One of the members of General Diaz' staff, Captain 
Jose Espinosa, came up to the President-elect as he 
was leaving the house, and said he had been deputed 
with the rest of the Staff to accompany him to and 
from the Chamber when he took his oath of office. 

"Did the General command this?" Mr. de la Barra 
asked. 

"Yes, to-day at noon," was the answer. 

The first orders that Mr. de la Barra himself signed 
as President were to General Huerta to escort the 
ex-President to Vera Cruz. 

At nine o'clock on the evening of that same day 
whereon he had taken his oath of office, driving back 
from the Chamber through the great Avenue to the 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 105 

applause of the people who but so lately had cried 
death to the man who had made them great, Mr. de la 
Barra went a last time to the house in the Calle de 
Cadena to take leave of his illustrious predecessor. 
He found Don Porfirio in bed trying to rest before 
starting on the journey to Vera Cruz, arranged for 
three o'clock in the morning. He was lying in his 
wife's room, a very spacious chamber, square, high-- 
ceilinged after the Mexican way, and dimly liglited. 
In its depths was a large Italian tryptic in the Primi- 
tive style with a faintly glinting gold background, its 
sacred figures only vaguely outlined in the obscurity. 
Mr. de la Barra sat in a large chair by the bed. 
Always prudent, General Diaz' first words were to beg 
Mr. de la Barra not to accompany him to the station 
as had been planned. Then followed a last conversa- 
tion between these two men placed in such strange 
relation, and who were destined never again to meet 
under the sky of their Fatherland. 

One can well suppose that Don Porfirio had been 
thinking over many long past things, as one does at 
the hour of any death, physical, political or moral, 
for he almost immediately recalled to Mr. de la Barra 
how he had first seen him at Queretaro on the day of 
his baptism in 1863. Mr. de la Barra's grandfather, 
Benito Quijano, was General of Division, and Diaz 
himself happened to be passing through Queretaro to 
the North. Between that hour in the dim and 
splendid church of Queretaro standing by a cai-ved 
baptismal font where he saw a new-born child, to this 
hour, lying in the vast, shadowy room, lay four 
decades. Fate in her crudest yet grandest manner 
having perfectly joined that beginning and this end. 



106 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

His conversation, though so great in substance, was 
very simple in form. Mr. de la Barra told me that 
more than his words, he remembered the majesty of 
his being m that last hour. Even in that moment of 
supreme betrayal and heart-break, his every word 
breathed the intensest love of country, and there 
was no bitterness attendant on the dolorous surprise 
with which he relinquished his power. 

But giving Mexico into the new President's 
hands was to Porfirio Diaz as if he were giving to 
him something inestimably precious, something that 
would be broken and destroyed if not carefully 
handled, even as an anxious father might at the hour 
of death commit a beloved yet wayward child into 
another's keeping. 

"He showed me the greatest kindness and even 
affection, and I think he pitied me for the difficult 
unknown on which I was embarked," Mr. de la Barra 
told me. "The conversation was almost entirely of 
our interior situation. I felt more and more how 
great was his patriotism, how intense his solicitude 
for his people, and my consciousness of the nobility 
of his spirit in misfortune increased at every word. 
Our foreign relations were scarcely mentioned. 
Mexico was the whole world for him, in the truest 
sense his Alpha and Omega. . . ." 

If in supreme hours the vision of great men, in 
whom the secret and primary gifts of imagination and 
prophecy are forever at work, is indeed enlarged, how 
immeasurable must have been Don Porfirio's anxi- 
ety as he surveyed his passionate, undisciplined, 
diversely-composed race, about to be engulfed in 
tlie flood of indigenous "democracy." Its waves, 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 107 

aglitter with a dreamer's promises, rippled mislead- 
ingly over the rocks of facts. . . . Later, in despair, 
he was to see the destruction completed from with- 
out. ... 

When the last moment came, the greatest Mexican 
raised himself slightly in bed. The new President 
bent over him. They gave each other the "abrazo" 
after the immemorial manner in which men, through- 
out the ages, have said their supreme farewells, — 
only fitting end, Biblic, noble, personal to such a 
scene. . . . 

On issuing from the room, where the prosperity 
of Mexico lay dead by the side of a broken-hearted 
man, Mr. de la Barra found much coming and going 
in the lighted salons and antechambers in prepara- 
tion for the impending departure. The two sisters 
of "Carmelita" were with her, Seiiora de Teresa * and 
Seilora de Elizaga, also Don Porfirio's son, his two 
daughters, Senora de la Torre and Seiiora de Rincon 
Gallardo; the husband of Sefiora de Elizaga and an 
aide-de-camp. . . . 

* Senora de Teresa was the widow of Don Jos6 de Teresa, the 
Mexican Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria, who renewed dip- 
lomatic relations with that country in 1901, suspended since the 
death of Maximilian. It was a brief but tragic episode, for he died 
a few weeks after his arrival in Vienna, leaving his young widow 
and little son to make a lonely .iourney back to Mexico. 

General Diaz' chivalrous treatment of the Austrian prisoners at 
the time of the taking of the City of Mexico had been much 
appreciated by the Emperor Francis Joseph, who bestowed on him in 
that same year of 1901, the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stephen, 
brought to him by Count Hohenwarth, first Minister Plenipotentiary 
to Mexico since 1867. Prince Khevenhiiller, whom General Diaz had 
defeated at the battle of San Lorenzo in 1867, and made prisoner 
at the taking of Mexico City, had been the special friend of Don Jose 
de Teresa on his arrival in Vienna. It was he and his wife who 
sustained the young widow by their sympathy and friendship, and 
who made the practical arrangements for her sorrowful return to her 
native land. 



108 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

As for the thoughts of him lying in that vast, dim, 
silent chamber, few could have followed them, for 
they embraced the heights and depths of national and 
personal disaster. 

But though their end is so often exile, the rise of 
nations to power is always due to their very few 
great men, whom destiny at its own hour and for its 
own purpose calls into being. "And it will forever be 
a difficult thing, worthy of the greatest praise, for a 
man to live justly, when he has complete liberty to do 
evil." Nature forms few in this mould. 



CHAPTER IX 

The Presidency ad Interim, May 25 to November 6, 1911 — 
Typical Scenes — The Army Celebrations in Chapultepec Park — 
Legislation Concerning Labor — Plot to Assassinate President 
de la Barra. 

Then began the ad-interim Presidency of Fran- 
cisco Leon de la Barra. It proved to be a constant 
struggle against the impatience of the Maderistas to 
get into power (an impatience they made not the 
slightest attempt to hide) ; the then-undiagnosed 
activities of the atavistic Zapata in the fair state of 
Morelos; the exactions of the disbanded army and 
the personal hopes of each and every Mexican patriot. 

Though he repeatedly announced in and out of the 
Chamber that he would under no circumstances be 
candidate for either Presidency or Vice-Presidency, 
there was an uneasy "quien sabe" among the Maderis- 
tas. It was so unlike what they themselves would do, 
that they could not decorously await the day of 
Madero's inauguration to find out if he really meant 
w^hat he said. In the meantime, Mr. de la Barra, 
though supported by expert governmental minds, 
trained during the practical Porfirian era, as well as 
by the order-loving elements, was discovering the dis- 
comforts of the Procrustian bed on which the Presi- 
dents of Mexico are accustomed to take a somewhat 
broken sleep. Its coverlet is daily made up and 
nightly turned down by jealous, impatient politicians 

109 



110 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

in the name of country, or bandits in the name of 
liberty and the poor. It is further surrounded by 
the astral projections of hungry bureaucrats, envious 
enemies and treacherous friends. 

Later Madero, sleeping in that same bed, watched 
over by the more fraternal ghosts of great departed, 
Washington, Franklin, Rousseau, Tolstoi, were among 
those he best loved, was held by dreams that had no 
more to do with the facts of the Mexican situation, 
which were of the unavoidable, inexorable, inevitable 
economic order, than Tennyson's "Dream of Fair 
Women" had to do with the suffragette question. 

Don Porflrio's long and prosperous administration 
of national affairs was due to his genius for facts. 
He knew that order was the first requisite for pros- 
perity and proceeded to make order, and even Madero, 
whose obsession was liberty, was later forced to the 
unwilling conclusion that it comes before liberty. 
After a few months of responsibility he was even 
convinced that there can be no liberty without it. 
He had not, unfortunately, within himself the ability 
to bestow peace, and his "plan" and his "program" 
were both soon as demode as a last year's hat. "In 
politics nothing ages so much as incompetence," is 
the dictum of a brilliant Mexican polemist. One is 
tempted to go further and say that incompetence is 
a crime, against which nations are justified in pro- 
testing. They will, naturally, protest in their own 
inherent way. In Latin America by a revolution or 
a coup d'etat, in northern latitudes by electing some 
one else from whom they hope again what they had 
vainly awaited from the last. In either case the 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 111 

process bears within itself its own specific and in- 
evitable consequences. 

At his first cabinet meeting Mr. de la Barra had 
presented the lines of conduct he had laid out for his 
term of office. His objects were three: pacification, 
reorganization of the public service, and preparation 
for the presidential elections due in October. In the 
first council of his ministers, the 26th of May, he ex- 
posed this i)rogram, stating that it could not be 
carried out, however, without the confidence and aid 
of the various (and variegated) political parties, and 
of the people. Addressing himself to the country and 
the Chamber, he furthermore stated that he had not 
desired the Presidency, and that the happiest day of 
his life (and one might add the safest) would be 
that on which he w^ould relinquish it. 

Events proved this to be true, but it was quite, if 
not entirely, unbelievable by the impatient Maderis- 
tas. Madero at that time was most cordial to the 
ad-interim President, hailing him, whenever they 
met, as "gran ciudadauo," great citizen, at the same 
time doubtless wondering if he would really get out 
at the appointed hour. 

Fortunately for him, however, and for the good 
name of Mexico the order-loving elements, at that 
time still in the majority in all classes, sought occa- 
sions on which to show him their confidence and re- 
spect. Various members of the since reviled land- 
owners, intellectuals, and representatives of the 
equally reviled high finance and big industry, even 
Y.ent so far as to arrange a fairly comprehensive 
banquet in his honor in the Jockey Club, — when 
already the jealousies of the masters of the New Dis- 



112 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

pensation were to be feared and were everywhere at 
work. 

The "Old Army" reorganized under the command 
of the Minister of War, General Rascon, of patriotic 
and loyal record, was with Mr. de la Barra, not alone 
through military obedience and the still potent tradi- 
tions left by Diaz, but because its chiefs saw the old 
ghost of revolution appearing on the horizon. This 
loyalty of the army was crystallized in the great 
f^te, organized in Chapultepec Park on the day when 
Mr. de la Barra returned the flag to the Thirty-second 
Infantry regiment. It was on this day that, inspired 
by the flag, opposing leaders such as General Reyes, 
also candidate for the Presidency, and Francisco I. 
Madero, (to meet their death two years afterward in 
such tragic antithesis) made mutually amicable 
speeches, as w^ell as the Minister of War and Mr. de la 
Barra. The glitter of the setting Mexican sun trans- 
figured for yet a moment the fast approaching specter 
of brotherly hate. 

The machinery of government was still working 
with the old impetus of law and order, and under the 
aegis of Mr. de la Barra several important measures 
were proposed and carried through, such as the com- 
mission, presided over by the very able Don Pedro 
Lascurain, for the study of agrarian problems and the 
foundation of a national Bureau of Labor, which have 
both survived the succeeding revolutions. 

Now the days of any President of Mexico are un- 
certain, and the following incident is typical. On the 
eve of the anniversary of the death of Juarez (18th 
of July), towards four o'clock General Huerta, sent 
from General Reyes, came to see President de la 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 113 

Barra at the Palace, to inform him that there was a 
plot on foot to assassinate him during the ceremonies. 
A short time after the chief of police appeared to 
say that it would be better to change the route of the 
procession at the last moment. From the monument 
of Juarez in the Avenida Juarez the President was to 
go to the Panteon of the Church of San Fernando, 
where the body of Juarez rests under the monument 
raised to him in the '80's, representing him with his 
head lying in the lap of a weeping woman, symbol- 
izing the sorrows of the nation, which he had thought 
to heal. President de la Barra was then to proceed 
on foot along the Avenue, turning in at the Calle San 
Diego, thence into the Avenida de los Hombres 
Ilustres, and into the little Plaza in front of the 
Church of San Fernando. 

His wife said to him as he left the house, "I am 
suddenly so anxious ; as soon as you get to the Pan- 
teon, have me informed." He had, of course, made 
no mention of the rumors concerning the plot to his 
family. He was to be accompanied by his ministers, 
his fitat Major and his three brothers. Nothing hap- 
pened. The day after an army doctor said to General 
Rascon, the Minister of War, the President's loyal 
friend, that as he was sitting two days before in 
civilian clothes on one of those single-backed, double- 
seated benches in the Zocalo, two tough-looking, big- 
hatted men seated themselves on the other side of the 
bench. The name of President de la Barra being 
mentioned, the doctor pricked up his ears. He heard 
one of them say : 

"I shan't do it. I have six children. One lives but 



114 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

once, and who knows if they will pay what they 
promise?" 

Then they got up and crossed the square. 

"Why didn't you immediately inform me?" Gen- 
eral Rascon cried. 

"I attached no importance to it at the time, but 
when I saw in the newspapers to-day the account of 
the plot to assassinate the President, I realized the 
import of the conversation. One of the men had a 
broken nose. I should recognize him." 

It is a little glimpse behind the scenes. The public 
sees the stage set quite sumptuously for the act. The 
reverse side shows a few crude lights, a lot of un- 
painted canvas, rough boardings and cobwebs. The 
usual arrangements for assassination are as simple 
as this described. The details alone differ — and the 
victim. , 



CHAPTER X 

Madero's Oft-cited Visit to Cuautla — Zapata and His Attempts to 
Eestore Primal Aztec Life in Mexico — The Glory That Was 
Spain's — Considerations Concerning the Spaniard in Mexico. 

Wlien, in October, Huerta, according to orders, was 
vigorously pushing the campaign against Zapata in 
Morelos, the President received at seven o'clock one 
morning a visit from Madero. He was accompanied, 
as usual, by some nepotic group ; on this occasion, by 
his uncle Ernesto, then Minister of Finance, his 
cousin by marriage (I think), General Gonsalez 
Salas, and his cousin by blood, Rafael Hernandez. 

Madero opened the conversation by saying that con- 
ditions were so bad in Morelos that he was most 
desirous of having an interview with Zapata, then 
at Cuautla, in an attempt to come to some arrange- 
ment, and he begged the President to give the neces- 
sary orders to facilitate his going. 

Mr, de la Barra, greatly surprised, answered : 

"You must not go. It will be both dangerous and 
unwise. Measures are being taken to bring the cam- 
paign to a successful finish. It will be better for 
you, better for me, better for the country, not to 
interfere at this moment," 

Madero's uncle and General Gowsalez Salas were 
also of the opinion that the trip to Cuautla might be 
disastrous, politically and personally. 

The President continued: 

115 



116 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOKY 

"General Huerta is taking measures to push the 
Zapatistas back, and General Caso Lopez, chief of the 
Zapadores, has been sent into the state of Puebla, to 
get them on the other side. They will thus be caught 
between two fires. Let well enough alone." 

It was finally agreed, after some further conversa- 
tion, that Madero should abandon the trip to Cuautla. 
All that day the President was in constant communi- 
cation with both generals, and matters were proceed- 
ing satisfactorily according to plan. 

At ten o'clock on the evening of that same day, 
Madero's brother, Gustavo, and Diaz Lombardo, 
Minister of Fine Arts, came to him in much agita- 
tion. A message had just been received from Madero 
from Cuautla, begging to have the movements of 
General Huerta's troops immediately stopped, that 
his, Madero's life, was in danger, that the greatest 
excitement prevailed among the inhabitants of the 
town, who, because of the advance of the Federal 
troops, and the attack on Cuautla, a stronghold of 
the Zapatistas, thought he, Madero, was a traitor. 
In consternation, the President said to the three men : 

"How is it possible that he can be there, against my 
advice, and at such risk to himself?" 

"He is lucky," Gustavo answered confidently, for 
until his last day the legend of Madero's luck in- 
fluenced practical decisions. The others doubtless 
raised their hands and said, "Quien sabe?" 

The President realized, however, that he would be 
held responsible if anything happened to the 
"apostle," even through his own rashness, and also 
that the so-desired pacification was greatly endan- 
gered. There was no time to lose. Madero brought 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 117 

back to the city on a bier would, at that moment, have 
been a national catastrophe. 

He said that he would immediately find out the 
real condition at Cuautla, and asked them to return 
in an hour. 

At the telegraph office in Cuautla he got hold of a 
confidential agent who reported that the populace, 
as well as the Zapatista soldiery, were in the greatest 
state of excitement, walking about with loaded pistols 
and guns, fearing the advance of Huerta's troops on 
one hand and of Caso Lopez' on the other. They sus- 
pected that a trap had been laid, that Madero was 
really allied with Huerta, and not the friend of 
Zapata, as they had supposed. Everywhere were 
cries of "Traidor, traitor !" The only effective protec- 
tion for Madero would be to have the march of Huerta 
and Caso Lopez immediately stopped and to proclaim 
an armistice of forty-eight hours. This was finally 
ordered by the President, much against his judgment, 
— any disaster except harm to the "apostle." 

As early as June, 1911, there were rumors of an 
"entente cordiale" between Madero and the "Atila del 
Sur." These were sometimes vague, sometimes quite 
definite. The "entente" was most simple of explana- 
tion, the only real difference being that one revo- 
lucionario was embarking on the Ship of State, the 
other was still swimming about in wreckage. 

Madero could never visualize himself in his true 
relation to the events he wished to mould. He was 
about to become President of Mexico, because of in- 
volved, largely subjective happenings, of states of 
mind. These had brought him to place and to power, 
not facts; the facts of the situation had been deter- 



118 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

mined by others tlian himself. He thought he had 
but to appear, and, at a from-all-time preordained 
moment, magnetically the destinies of Mexico would 
group themselves about his person, with attendant 
materialization of the millennium. 

The combination of events and personalities at the 
moment of the overthrow of Diaz is completely 
baflfling to reason, and reminds me of a paragraph 
from Sir Thomas Barclay's "Sands of Pate" : "The 
folly of man shifts its center from nation to nation 
like the wind and the storm, and the least likely (or 
the most) may in turn become its victim in spite of 
every argument of reason, interest and national tra- 
dition." 

Never was this more typified than in the case of 
Mexico, where national folly flew as steel to the mag- 
net of one man's madness. 

As to Zapata, time has testified in its own inexor- 
able manner that, in spite of the horrid things he 
did, he was neither so oppressive, so corrupt, nor 
so incompetent as the other Liberators of his decade. 
Though his methods for the distribution of land 
were generally abrupt and always painful, he was 
consistent in his idea, directly inherited, Zapatismo 
having proved itself to be an atavistic, Aztec arrange- 
ment for the despoiling of those who seemed to have 
too much in favor of those who obviously had too 
little. The unequal distribution of wealth has puzzled 
and discouraged wiser men than Zapata. His method 
worked out so badly because it was completely out 
of date, there being no room for primal Aztec life in 
a country linked by railway and telegraph and hav- 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 119 

ing the inestimable blessing of a Chamber of Depu- 
ties. 

Zapata being the only one of the Liberators who 
really set about distributing the land, if 'land for the 
landless" was what President Wilson truly desired 
in Mexico, it has been suggested that the impeccable 
logic of events demanded his recognition rather than 
that of Carranza. His record was, however, too pic- 
turesque, too anachronistic, to be really attractive, 
even in what might be called the experimental period 
of Mr. Wilson's connection with Mexico, and that of 
his uncertainty as to whether Villa or Carranza 
would make the best "constitutional" President of 
Mexico. 

Zapata first emerged out of the mass of the 85 per 
cent as stable boy to Don Ignacio de la Torre, who 
told me he had found him an excellent domestic. 

His solicitude for the poor of Morelos, and his 
peculiar conceptions of "mine and thine" were later 
developments. The ejection of Don Ignacio de la 
Torre from his hacienda by his one-time servant 
seems to have been painful to both. Don Ignacio told 
me, however, that Zapata did" what he could in the 
matter of supplying him and his friend, Don Joaquin 
Amor, with horses and food and some elemental sort 
of passport and safe-conduct in their flight across 
country. But it is always a poor proposition when 
the valet drives out his master. 

The followers of Zapata were almost entirely pure- 
blooded Indians and as easy as infants to lead. The 
pistol and a horse will always prove more stimulating 
to the imagination than a cornfield and the hoe, and 
this last any Indian (and many white men) will 



120 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

quickly drop for the noisier and more immediate joys 
of fire-arms. The record of Zapata's occupation of 
Mexico City shines, however, in comparison with that 
of Carranza's half-breed hordes. The Zapatista sol- 
diery proved to be stupid enough to pay for what they 
found in the shops instead of just taking it, after 
Carranza's "Preconstitutional" example. This was 
a decided blow to Zapata's prestige among other 
Liberators, and even among the still enslaved 85 per 
cent. A Mexican, a decent Mexican, is reported 
to have said of them, innocently but revealingly with- 
drawing the curtain from before his own soul : "Poor 
fools, they knew no better." Another and still 
simpler method of Zapatista procedure is exemplified 
by the note at the bottom of this page.^ 

*How and to whom a lady might be called on to serve a cup of 
tea, during the Zapatista occupation of Mexico City, is shown in this 
quotation from a letter from Madame Simon, wife of the Inspecteur 
des Finances of the Banco Naeional: 

"I was alone in my salon one late afternoon when the maitre 
d 'hotel came to say that there were four Zapatista officers in a 
carriage in front of the house, and that they wished to speak with 
my husband on an urgent matter. A glance from the window 
revealed a carriage full of hats — you see the picture. Nothing 
daunted I said to the alarmed servant: 'Tell the ranking one to 
come in.' A moment after a tall, handsome brigand with a very 
large and decorative hat in his hand, his torso almost concealed by 
cartridge belts and armed with rifle and knife, appeared at the door. 
He bowed with excellent manners and asked if I preferred to speak 
Spanish or English. My English being the better of the two we 
carried on the politest of conversations in that language. I offered 
him a cup of tea. Between dainty sips he told me he had been 
educated in the United States and had studied law there. His 
history between his American studies and brigandage in Morelos 
he did not reveal. The gentle object of his visit was to obtain 30,000 
pesos which he needed to pay his men. My husband appeared at 
this moment, and he repeated his demand, with the additional remark 
that if he didn't get the money he would proceed to the sacking 
of Mexico City. There being no choice but to comply, my husband 
went to the telephone, saying that he had no such amount in his 
home. There was no one at the bank and it was impossible to get 
hold of any one else at that hour. The General began to get very 
impatient, suspecting, of course, that some trick was being tried on 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 121 

A determining factor about Zapata was his instinct 
for the picturesque, his habits, clothes and general 
get-up being suited to his ends. His features were 
straight, his mustache was dark, even lustrous; his 
trousers were long and tight, and many silver but- 
tons adorned the outside seam, his hat was big and 
heavily ornate with chapetas, his fine horses had 
beautiful saddles. Indeed, at any moment Zapata, 
without a single change, could have stepped on to any 
stage perfectl}^ dressed for his role. Then, too, the 
indestructible beauty of the state of Morelos set off 
his person and his "works." Villa's background, 
dusty stretches of chaparral and mesquite in the 
north, typified, too, the eternal adjustment of race to 
landscape. He generally affects shabby American 
clothes, has an indeterminate nose and a front tooth 
is missing. However, all this is ancient history. 
After a somewhat long run — for Mexico — Villa has 
been supplanted in the public imagination by a man 
with one arm, which advantage a more than casual 
study of Mexico and the Mexicans alone enables one 
to appreciate. One might as well be writing of the 

him, and said finally in a loud tone: 'If the money isn't in my 
hands by 10 o'clock I will give orders for the sacking of the city. 
The responsibility will be on your hands. I must have money to pay, 
my men. ' 

"In the end, my husband prevailed on him to wait till 9 o'clock 
the next morning, telling him to present himself at the bank at that 
hour. This he did, received the money and departed. We thought 
the affair forever closed. A little later, however, the whole sum was 
repaid to my husband, to whom it was delivered on his being told to 
send for it at a certain address. This proved to be a miserable hovel 
in a squalid, cut-throat part of town. The messenger saw that money 
and a great deal more simply thrown into one corner of the dirty 
room, just as you would swceji up rubbish. Though so carelessly 
guarded, such was the discipline and honor among this especial set 
of thieves, that no unauthorized person would ever have attempted to 
touch it." 



122 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

"Tiger of Tacubaya" as of tlie "Tiger of the North," 
as far as actualities are concerned, and Villa is only 
of permanent interest in the light of the one-time 
glory so singularly flung about his person by Wash- 
ington. 

Dr. Gates' account of his visits to Zapata, his rides 
across country in the heavy silver moonlight of More- 
los, brigands silently gathering in mountain fast- 
nesses, remind one of the second act of Trovatore, the 
anvil chorus left out and political talk thrown in. 
Villages would be entered, decorated after the Aztec 
manner, with green branches and bright flowers, and 
innocent strains of music on archaic instruments 
would complete the bucolic picture. 

Zapata's death came about in the best "redemp- 
tory" manner. He was invited by Carrancistas to a 
meeting under formal terms of truce. Incautiously 
sitting at bread with the other Liberators he was done 
to death in the back. 

But his ghost, as picturesque as his living body, 
will long haunt the loveliest of the Mexican States, 
inciting his followers to vengeance, even though the 
"First Chief" of those who betrayed him has also 
gone the well-trodden and inevitable way of treason 
and assassination. . . . 

His doctrines, too, have inherent reasons for sur- 
vival, for Morelos, one of the garden spots of the 
earth, is among the few Mexican states where the 
division of the land into small holdings is feasible. 
But God, not man, made this to an extent possible, 
because of its rainfall and its irrepressible flora. 
The Indian of the North, to whom unirrigated land 
is portioned out^ either starves or goes elsewhere. 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 123 

But at all times he is ready to serve, to fight, to build, 
or to destroy according to the temper of those who 
lead him. 

And if the Indian had a bad time in the old days 
in the name of the King of Spain and God, he is hav- 
ing a worse time now in the name of Liberty, Reform, 
Justice, Independence. These words are known to 
every Indian equally with "siesta" and "mais." Of 
their origin and attributes he has no clearer idea than 
we of the great First Cause. Doubtless when his corn 
has been trampled by soldiers in the name of "In- 
dependencia," his wife (or wives) and daughters out- 
raged in the name of "Libertad," his land taken from 
him in the name of "Reforma" and he himself is up 
against a wall looking with deer-like eyes into the 
muzzle of a gun in the name of "Justicia," he has a 
vague though necessarily brief and profitless per- 
ception of their meaning. 

Pure races act along the simplest and most direct 
of evolutionary lines. It is the mixed races that make 
the trouble. The half-breed of the rural districts has 
always supplied the elements of guerilla warfare in 
Mexico. He can often read and write, and he knows 
something of "the law by which sin came." In the 
cities the mestizo also supplies the elements of 
"bureaucratic cannabalism," and his propensities are 
evident to those he feeds on. He can always read and 
write, and generally knows envy and brotherly hate 
in their perfected forms. 

Zapata's "Indianismo" has proved to have been 
quite simply a 20th century reappearance of the 
Aztec type, interrupted and modified but slightly 
by the coming of a foreign race. It presupposes, 



124 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

among other things, the religious life, and the re- 
ligious life of the Indian always externalizes itself in 
rites and practices, distasteful to his rationally-minded 
contemporaries of other climes. But the Indian with- 
out religion is an abortion of nature. The "old town 
hall" will never satisfy him. His mystical needs will 
forever seek nourishment in symbols, and much as 
he needs corn, he cannot live by it alone. That is 
for the brutes. Spain with all her faults knew this, 
and looking at history, who reveals herself only to 
the free of eye, it would seem that all that has been 
done in Mexico since the days of her discovery by the 
white man has been done by Spain and the sons of the 
Catholic Church, "por Dios infinitas almas y por el 
rey infinitas tierras," — and foreign capital. To these 
she owes all except her beauty, her natural riches 
and the right to revolution,^ which she exercises so 
abundantly. 

Strangely enough Spain has been forced by the 
intolerance of the 20th century point of view to be 
apologetic for her former greatness. There is even 
a Spanish saying, "Culpa fue de los tiempos no de 
Espana." (It was the fault of the times, not of 
Spain. ) 

But in Mexico we have not done as well. We have 
proceeded on the assumption that the deepest need of 

^ Of this last I am tempted to quote General Grant when he says, 
with large and quiet vision: "Now the right of revolution is an 
inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is 
a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression, 
if they are strong enough, either by withdrawal from it, or by over- 
throwing it and substituting a government more acceptable. But any 
people or part of a people who resort to this remedy stake their 
lives, their property and every claim for protection given by citizen- 
ship on this issue. Victory or the conditions imposed by the con- 
queror must be the result." — Personal Memoirs. 



FKANCISCO LEON DE LA BARKA 125 

her soul is to be a miniature United States of 
America. The Spaniards, historically very learned, 
never dreamed of making her like unto themselves. 
We have traversed so far along this wrong road that 
we will have difficulty in getting back to the natural 
starting point in any nation's destiny, — the impulse 
of her own being ; and though we bind Mexico with a 
thousand miles of best American cord (even made of 
sisal) ,she will in the end burst them or perish from 
the face of the earth as did our Indians. Middle 
course there is none. 

Another of our faults in Mexico is tangling this 
thread of her racial and historical continuity. This 
will be said to be of the thinnest, but such as it is, 
from it she must spin her national destinies. We 
snapped this thread lightly in our fingers, frayed the 
ends and passed on. One of the uses of the World 
War is that it has shown the vei^y relative value of 
civilizations. In fact we live in a world of nations as 
naked as were our first parents, and, alas, in no Gar- 
den of Eden. 

The work of Spain in Mexico was the result of 
attentive and persistent measures applied by a cen- 
tral power working continuously, not through one 
or more Presidential terms, and intermittently at 
that, but through generations. In the end a whole 
was formed out of the most dissimilar groupings of 
race, acting and reacting according to inescapable 
climatic conditions. With all its black spots New 
Spain was a thing of beauty and use. Under our 
auspices it is simply a nuisance — except in the oil 
regions. 

As for liberty as we understand it, it was as un- 



126 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

known to the gifted Spaniards of the 16th and 17th 
centuries as the electric light and the airplane. Their 
results were obtained by methods we have chosen to 
anathematize. What succeeding generations will say 
of the twentieth century expressions of liberty I 
shudder to think. Even as he who has not studied 
history understands but imperfectly this strangely 
mysterious present, he who considers that the pas- 
sions of the human heart which regulate the destinies 
of nations can be changed, will also think falsely 
concerning the future. That each state bears in- 
herently within itself the seeds of death as well as 
life no one will gainsay. No nation could attain 
to the might and power of Spain in her apogee except 
by the ejgercise of supreme gifts, and her greatness 
shown in her colonizing energies is one of the mighti- 
est manifestations of history. Her strength and her 
glory came from her virtues operating in spite of her 
defects, and that they replaced in Mexico a lesser 
thing by a greater who shall deny? 

The grandeur of the Spanish civilization of- the 
16th and 17th centuries is comparable only to that of 
the British Empire to-day. Both are colossal expres- 
sions of national genius. The Spaniards in Mexico 
present to our attention every fault inherent to the 
world-conditions of their day. These are especially 
antipathetic to our habit of thought, though our dis- 
regard of the imponderable values of existence may 
cause us to be held by more sensitive-minded genera- 
tions to come in even greater contempt than we do 
the Spaniards in America. Brutality, rapacity, in- 
tolerance were used abundantly in the exploitation 
of the Indian, but beauty, an essential, was added to 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 127 

the beauty that they found and the mystical life, 
without which neither individuals nor nations sub- 
sist, was encouraged and sustained. 

The strange but liere very visible processional of 
fate decreed that the next exterior influence in 
Mexico should be foreign capital. It was applied to 
her as oxygen is applied to a person struggling for 
breath, to get her over the critical moment. She 
would have died without it and the most expensive 
illusion ever nourished about Mexico by President 
Wilson, expensive alike to Mexicans and Americans, 
is that which pictures the foreign investor as her 
scourge. Her history shows imperturbably that at 
intervals, almost rhythmic, the foreign investor has 
been Mexico's only salvation, and at all times has 
enriched her. 

Sadness overcomes me looking at the natural 
processes, they are so cruel yet so unhaltable, always 
imperfectly viewed from some personal, seemingly 
expedient angle. And the battles of nations are 
typified by the battles nature wages in each heart. 



CHAPTEE XI 

Grrito de Dolores — September 15, 1911. 

The one hundred and first anniversary of the 
"Grito de Dolores" was the earliest "ensemble" pic- 
ture I was to see of the political elements of 1911, 
wonderfully framed in the century-old Palace.^ 

The city had been deluged all the afternoon by one 
of the heavy rains accompanying the close of the wet 
season on the Plateau. The streets were still splashy, 
the trees dripping, as we drove down the Avenida 
San Francisco with the Ambassador, who had called 
for us. We proceeded slowly through an immense 
and orderly crowd, concentrated in the Zocalo, 
mounted police making way for us. The windows of 
the Palace were ablaze and above them, against the 
sky away from the lighted square, were outlined 
blackly the ancient small turrets (almenas) whicn 
once designated the habitation of a "war-lord." 

Entering through the Puerta de Honor we went up 
the broad stairway, carpetted with the handsome red 
carpet bought for the Centenary celebrations of the 
year before. The sumptuously furnished salons were 
strongly lighted. The President and his wife and 

^On the site now occupied by the National Palace was once a 
Palace of Montezuma. Part of the present edifice dates from Cortes, 
notably the ancient wing of pink tezontle. The Palace, so closely 
bound up with the history of Mexico, has suffered many vicissitudes 
as well as many renovations, these latter largely made under the 
great Victory Revillagigedo at the end of the eighteenth century, and 
during the brief reign of Maximilian. 

128 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 129 

the members of his cabinet were receiving at one end 
of the vast Sala de los Embajadores. The President 
was in evening dress, across his breast the broad red 
and white and green sash of his high office. Madame 
de la Barra, pretty and smiling, was in a smart Rue 
de la Paix gown. About them were grouped the mem- 
bers of the Cabinet. 

Don Ernesto Madero, Minister of Finance, pre- 
sented, as always, the appearance of a polished man 
of the world. He was "fin," agreeable, and doubtless 
technically much more competent than any other 
member of the Madero family. Don Rafael Hernan- 
dez, first cousin to Madero and Minister of Fomento, 
who stood near him, was of tall and handsome pres- 
ence, with very black hair, brilliant complexion, high 
arched nose, and he showed very white teeth when he 
smiled, which was often. 

Don Alberto Garcia Granados, Minister of Gober- 
nacion and past seventy, experienced with the 
broadly human experience of fifty years of Latin- 
American politics, was the only personal friend of 
the President in the Cabinet. He was a man of great 
probity as well as intelligence, and was to suffer the 
most tragic of deaths under the Carranza regime. 

General Gonsalez Salas, Minister of War, also a 
cousin of Madero, made a showy figure in the rather 
gaudy uniform of his high rank. It will be seen 
that the Cabinet of President de la Barra was deeply 
dyed in Maderista colors. Don Francisco Vasquez 
Gomez, of many ambitions, was Minister of Public 
Instruction. Such were the figures in highest relief 
among the official group. 

But there was another group, denser and more 



130 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

portentous, that stood about Madero, who was natu- 
rally the real center of interest. He was smiling, 
but his eyes had a distant, unfocussed look, making 
him seem like a man in a dream. His attitude was 
devoid of pride and an amiable simplicity stamped 
his words and gestures. His wife stood near him. 
Her dark, sharp-featured face was softened by an 
expression of admiring affection and satisfaction, 
though, even on that auspicious occasion, there was 
something vigilant in her attitude. She was plainly, 
darkly and unbecomingly dressed. Behind them, 
overflowing into the other salon, were as many of 
the 232 members of the Madero family as could get 
to Mexico City, together with their friends and the 
'friends of their friends. I have to this day the im- 
pression of something austere, provincial, yet impa- 
tient and vaguely ominous in these groupings. 

Of Madero's immediate family I remember 
especially his mother, "Madame Mere," as Madame 
Lefaivre used to call her. Her pride was quite 
pardonable at the astonishing apotheosis of her son, 
visibly illumined, manifestly predestined and justified 
by the greatest of all justifications — success. His 
sisters, Mercedes and Angela, stood near their 
mother, small, dark, thin-featured young women, in 
rather dull costumes. Of the many brothers I only 
remember Gustavo,^ familiarly called "ojo parado," 
whom I met there for the first time. Exuberant, 
"rasta," tireless, an abounding quality of life 
proceeded from his being, and was his most notice- 
able attribute. He was tall and well-featured with 
red-brown hair, and a small red-brown mustache, 

^ He had a glass eye. 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 131 

which did not conceal the pleasure-loving lips of his 
amiable mouth. He seemed to have, that evening, 
the gift of ubiquity, for he was always to be found in 
any room into which one happened to stray. He was, 
I fancy, of a naturally adventurous spirit, and of a 
creative type of mentality. Although he held nO' 
official position, he was the most dominant personality 
among the advisers of his brother. Indeed, the rest 
of the family were quite jealous of his influence with 
the "Redeemer." 

Some of the Madero women were fresh and good- 
looking in their pleasant, provincial way. Ernesto 
Madero's wife was very pretty, dark-eyed, bright- 
complexioned, rather plump, "de la costa," and there 
was something pleasing and unsophisticated about 
her person, clad in a soft and becoming gown. But 
mostly the women comprising the Madero phalanx 
that evening wore beetling, towering toques, and 
tight-waisted, dull dresses, or very big picture hats 
and impossible high-necked, spangled gowns with 
trains, reminding one of King Edward's remark to 

Lord H when he appeared in a frock-coat and 

pearl-gray trousers in a countrj^-house in the 
morning: "Good God, when will you learn to dress?" 

Joined to the nepotic groupings were countless 
others, related by expectancy rather than blood. It 
all reappears in memory like those pictures of im- 
mense concourses of human beings whose forms 
become more and more undefined until at last they 
melt into the horizon. About these dark archipela- 
goes of humanity, as I walked through the brilliar^^jy 
lighted rooms, was everywhere the same "expe. ^tans 
expectavi" look, and the solemn, dense atmpvj5p]jigpg 



132 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

embued with something strange, undefined, yet poten- 
tial. What would have been the history of Mexico 
had Madero been a poor orphan and the only son 
of the only son of an orphan, one can but surmise. 
For if to a few relatives are a blessing, to how many 
they are more disastrous than enemies and much less 
useful than strangers. 

At this moment of writing, every political man in 
that special assemblage is either dead or in exile. 
If there be an, to me, unknown exception, it but proves 
the Mexican rule. 

I was subsequently taken out to supper by Don 
Manuel Calero, Minister of Justice. He was tardily 
presented, when I found myself nearly alone in the 
room, by the Chef du Protocol, who approached me 
apologetically, a long list in one hand, and Calero, so 
to speak, in the other, somewhat flustered by the task 
of properly mating the new and diverse apparitions. 

We hastily followed the cortege out to a high, 
bountifully-spread, flower-decorated table, at which 
we stood, instead of sitting, as is the custom. The 
dining room is furnished with huge, elaborately 
carved sideboards of Alsatian oak. Over the high 
ornate mantelpiece I noted a large and admonitory 
marble bust of Minerva. On the table were magnifl- 
cent silver epergnes and fruit-dishes, bearing the 
imperial and tragic crest. Even at that time when 
I was only in the protoplasmic stage of my Mexican 
development, and was steeped in the natural beauty 
of Mexico rather than intellectually perceptive of the 
idiosyncrasies of its government, I was aware that I 
^had opened an extraordinarily interesting book. But 
it was in a foreign language and I had to use a die- 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 133 

tionary for nearly every word. I found my supper 
companion, however, to be one with whom one might 
easily converse. He had clever eyes and a strong 
jaw and he spoke excellent, idiomatic English with a 
pronounced American accent. He was in deep 
mourning for his lately deceased first wife, even to 
dull jet shirt-studs and cuff -buttons. I noted, how- 
ever, that from time to time he smiled reassuringly 
across the broad table, where just opposite was a shy, 
smiling young woman, his bride of two weeks. 

He knew almost all the things we Anglo-Saxons 
know and many that we do not. Now every Mexican 
political man finds himself in a world peopled by 
enemies who want his place, and friends who do like- 
wise, and the tight rope is child's play compared to 
the feat of sustaining his equilibrium. Indeed, it is 
only a clever man, and he but for a brief period, 
who can accomplish it. Looking back on it all I am 
struck by the extraordinary talent of the public men 
I knew there, scarcely an "imbecile" among them, 
such as every other political system I am familiar 
with not only tolerates but fosters. They cannot 
exist if they are stupid in Mexico, and never was the 
survival of the fittest more apparent. "What, then, 
is the matter?" I used often to ask myself, and I 
continue to ask myself to-day, when all those elements 
have been washed free of illusion, and even hope in 
the blood of not one but many revolutions. 

Calero, later to be Ambassador to Washington, 
discovered there fully what he doubtless then sus- 
pected, that the Mexicans understand us far better 
than we understand them. The study of our favors. 



134 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

our caprices and even our insults has since become 
part of every public man's education in particular, 
and a stumbling block to Latin- America in general. 
I was myself, that evening, simply an easily pleased 
foreign woman, supping at the Palace for the first 
time, not too hard to talk to, and quite willing to 
trim the Avick of that dimly-burning lamp in whose 
uncertain light what is now classically known as the 
"Mexican situation" is regarded. In Washington, 
Calero was to discover that easy and pleasant assur- 
ances, rather than disagreeable facts, are what suit us 
temperamentally where Me:sSico is .concerned. He 
gave them to us in abundance. When Washington 
would periodically ask how soon peace and prosperity 
were to be restored in Mexico, he would answer in a 
few well-chosen, conciliatory words, which always had 
a soothing effect. On his return from Washington 
he was, however, quite desperate about the situation, 
and he made a completely revelatory speech in the 
Senate Chamber concerning his ungrateful mission. 
"Whoever," he cried, "will be called on to discharge 
the delicate duties of Mexican Ambassador to 
Washington, must array himself in a domino and 
cover his face with a mask, if he would try to main- 
tain the almost lost reputation of his govern- 
ment. . . ." 

The climax of the evening was the ringing of the 
Campana de la Independencia, the "Liberty Bell" of 
Mexico. Never in all its histoiy since the night of 
1810 had its ringing been so significant as when 
President de la Barra stepped out on the little bal- 
cony, and, raising his hand, pulled the hanging cord 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 135 

while its rather toneless sounds filled the Plaza.^ It 
was to ring in a new order, to herald a new day. 

Shortly afterwards, being the only lady of the 
American Embassy present, the President asked me 
to join him on the balcony. For a few strange mo- 
ments I found myself standing between him and 
Madero. I was suddenly and acutely conscious of the 
complete psychical divergence of the two men, but 
this feeling passed as I found myself 'looking down on 
something more impressive, more touching than any- 
thing I had ever beheld before, — an Indian people ex- 
pectant of redemption. 

Seen from above, the crowd presented a strange 
appearance in the light that literally bathed the 
Plaza. Tens of thousands of peaked hats were seen 
at an oblique angle, lighter than the shadowy faces 
under them, upturned to the balcony. 

The towers of the cathedral and the facade of the 
Sagrario were outlined by electric lights, as well as 
the Palace and the houses and portales surrounding 
the other two sides of the Square, whose trees and 
bushes were either of the intensest black, or of a 
trembling whiteness as they caught the light. Huge, 
spray-like green and red and white fireworks con- 
tinually illumined the sky. 

The "Redeemer," whose garments I was touching, 
stood looking down upon those he had come to save, 
and I think at that moment he had no doubt of his 

' It was twenty minutes before midnight, aceordingf to the legend, 
that on the 15th of September, 1810, the priest Hidalgo rang this 
bell hanging in the church of Dolores, a little town in the state 
of Guanajuato, calling patriots to fight for Liberty and Inde- 
pendence. In 1896 with great pomp and ceremony, this same bell 
was brought to the capital, aud hung where it no^ is, above the little 
central balcony of the Palace looking out on the Zoealo. 



136 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

complete competence. The smile was gone from his 
face, though there was a strange brilliancy about 
his eyes as he looked fixedly at the swaying, sup- 
pliant mass of humanity. Usually so loquacious, he 
was suddenly silent, his white-gloved hands twitched 
slightly as he held the iron railing of the little bal- 
cony. What President de la Barra thought, I know 
not. His face, too, was very pale, and the light 
caught the colors of his red and white and green 
sash. Wave-like sounds came from the crowd. "In- 
dependencia," "Mexico," "Madero," "Libertad," 
"Salvador," "de la Barra," could be distinguished, 
though mostly it was but an indeterminate expres- 
sion of human hope and the strange rustling sound 
of crowds. Above it all the old bells of the cathedral 
rang out, and a few minutes later came the deafening 
cannonading of the salutes. 

The rain had long since ceased. Immense and bril- 
liant constellations scarcely dimmed by the fireworks 
and the electric lights, shone in a sky of deepest blue, 
with those strange, terrifying spots of infinite black 
one finds in tropical heavens. As I turned after a 
brief, awed moment, to go back into the glaringly- 
lighted sala, I brushed against Madame Madero, 
standing at the window-sill. She quickly slipped into 
my place, her small, darkly-clad form outlined against 
the brilliance of the Plaza lights. . . . 

Never had I seen the tools of Fate so near the 
human clay. The Potter's hand, too, was visibly 
reaching out. 



CHAPTER XII 

President de la Barra Advances the Date of His Withdrawal from 
Power — President Madero Takes His Oath of Office — Concerning 
the "Military Genius" — The Three Figures Seen in the Twi- 
light, November 6, 1911. 

In Paris, years afterwards, I once said to Mr. de la 
Barra: "Knowing that the popularity of Madero 
was on the wane, and being convinced of his complete 
unpreparedness for government, did you never think 
of remaining in office on the Huertista principle, 
*that the law is not violated if the country be saved'?" 

Mr. de la Barra : "It would have been impossible. 
It was necessary, in the state of mind in which the 
country found itself, that Madero be 'tried out,' other- 
wise it would have been said that had he had a chance, 
he could have established a perfects^^^ocracy in 
Mexico. It was a case of Scylla and Cha?^*dis, and 
Mexico was wrecked on both. No man could have 
steered contrary to the Maderista tide. The in- 
auguration was set for the 20th of November, but 
I felt it wiser to hasten the event. I therefore asked 
a committee of friends in the Chamber to advance 
the date from the twentieth to the sixth of the month. 
I also arranged to leave the countiy the evening of 
that same day, accepting the mission to Italy, to re- 
turn a somewhat belated thanks for the sending of 
the special Italian Embassy to the Centenary celebra- 
tions. I had promised the country to leave the Presi- 

137 



138 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

dency on the election of my successor and his full 
recognition by Congress. I kept my word. I knew 
the incompetency of Madero for the governing of the 
Republic, but I had to accept the decision of the great 
majority of the people. Many suggestions to remain 
in power were made to me, and many offers to stand 
by me in such an event. But I refused. Moreover, 
had I not kept my word, and acted against the spirit 
of the law — not against the letter — I would have been 
called a traitor, and I would have found a flag of in- 
surrection in front of me." 

Whatever may have been the reasons, it must 
always be remembered of Francisco Leon de la Barra 
that he could have made efforts, perhaps successful, 
to keep his position, many political elements being in 
his control, and that he did not seek to retain it beyond 
the moment of his promise. 

According to a witness of the scene, Madero was 
very nervous, and even agitated at the Palace on that 
morning of the sixth of November when Mr. de la 
Barra gave over to him the supreme power. His eyes 
were brilliant, but could not fix themselves on any 
person or object ; he was deathly pale, and more than 
usually talkative, his excitement generally showing 
itself by increased loquacity. 

Mr. de la Barra, in brief words, expressed his 
wishes for the prosperity of Mexico during the new 
administration and for the personal success of the 
new President. 

Mr. Madero then thanked him in the name of the 
country, hailing him as "the great citizen who had 
governed Mexico wisely, transmitting the supreme 
power integrally and in strict conformity to the law." 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BAKKA 139 

He gave orders that Mr. de la Barra be accom- 
panied to his home by a Guard of Honor. Pascual 
Orozco, the "Cabecilla" of Chihuahna, one of the 
Maderista heroes, asked to form part of it. And it 
was thus, surrounded by the mixed escort of Presi- 
dential guards and Maderista generals, that Mr. de 
la Barra, deeply moved, returned to his home, fol- 
lowed by an immense crowd shouting, "Viva el Presi- 
dente Blanco." 

When Madero appeared at the Chamber to take his 
oath, even from the distance of the diplomatic loge, 
his pallor was appalling, his eyes deep-ringed, his 
small beard like a spot of ink. He took his oath 
firmly, however, but as he turaed to leave the Cham- 
ber to go back to the Palace, where the members of 
the government and the diplomatic corps awaited 
him, he made a sudden strange movement, almost 
supplicatory, of putting his hands together, invoking 
what spirit or spirits I know not. He was at the 
summit of his desire. What frightening, prophesying 
apparition he met on those heights, who shall say? 

In the streets an immense ci:owd was calling him 
"Salvador" and "Apostol." The greatest confusion 
prevailed and even he had much difficulty in getting 
down the steps leading from the Camara, and into his 
motor. The diplomatic corps had arrived at the 
Chamber of Deputies, with garments torn, top hats 
furry and battered, and had finally entered by a small 
side door to which they were for the most part en- 
gineered by Manuel del Campo, Third Introducer of 
Ambassadors. To this day I remember the sudden 
dim quiet of the small passage and the returning 
sense of personal safety, as we found ourselves shut 



140 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

out from the excitement and potentialities of tlie 
crowd. Madero had not called out the soldiery, wish- 
ing, as he said, to show his confidence in the people. 
The confusion, naturally, was indescribable. Even 
the band of the Presidential Guard was scattered and 
the trombones sounded from one side and the bugles 
from another. It was the Mexican people in the full 
enjoyment of a change for the worse. 

"Now I can put everything straight," Madero said, 
with a childlike smile to a foreign minister on re- 
ceiving his congratulations at the Palace. Doubtless 
at the moment he saw himself leaning down from a 
cloud of glory, dispensing happiness and security to 
each and every Mexican. Had he been a bad man, 
but a clever one, with his feet on the earth and some 
knowledge of statecraft, according to Machiavelli, 
the history of Mexico would have been different. His 
very virtues, so multiple, so apparent, so confound- 
ing even, meant her ruin and his own, and that 
incompetent, short, squarish hand of his, so freely 
used in gesture, was the predestined instrument of 
catastrophe. , . . 

My last sight of Mr. de la Barra that day of 
Madero's inauguration was as he stood on the rear 
platform of the special train that took him in the 
afternoon to Vera Cruz, whence he was to embark for 
France. 

The crowd and disorder at the station was even 
greater than that around the Chamber of Deputies 
in the morning, and it was with difficulty that the 
official world got through the waiting thousands. 
Mounted police had been at last called out ; even they 
had trouble in keeping a space free for the passage 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 141 

of the motors and carriages. The ex-President, with 
his usual punctuality, was the first to arrive, accom- 
panied by his wife and children. The Corps Diplo- 
matique, already there, proceeded to make their 
adieux to Madame de la Barra in her flower-filled 
compartment. She was smiling, and doubtless very 
happy to be safely descended with her husband and 
children from those dangerous heights whereon is 
placed the Mexican presidential chair. 

Then a long, very long wait occurred, which I spent 
sitting on a i)ile of boards in company with the Ger- 
man Minister, who was very pessimistic as to the 
eventual outcome of "so much legality" in Mexico. 
"You will intervene in the end," he said. The French 
secretary, M. de Vaux, was more optimistic, and what 
he was fond of calling "la democratie integrale" w^as 
indeed in apotheosis. He was even unmoved by jokes 
concerning the famous unopened sacks of votes we 
had seen at the Chamber of Deputies that morning, in 
the Protocol office, — corded, sealed, bearing naively 
the evidences of their origin, "Colegio Electoral de 
Torreon," "de Guadalajara," "de Chihuahua," etc., 
whose numbers were to forever remain a secret. He 
did allow, with an unavoidable smile, that it would 
have been wiser to remove the bales, or at least their 
tickets, from the cold foreign eye. 

"Blood and Sand" had played a not unimportant 
electoral role in various localities, large votes having 
been cast for favorite bull-fighters. 

The confusion, even on the safe side of the picket, 
continued and the screams of the wife of the Spanish 
Minister, separated from her daughter in the momen- 
tum of the "democratie integrale," made a little 



142 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

change in the monotony of the long wait. The Jap- 
anese Charge, always active and practical, found and 
restored them to each other's arms. 

Madero, though naturally courteous, did not pos- 
sess the crowning "politesse des rois" and was gen- 
erally late everywhere. At length, however, the 
familiar swelling, mob-like cry arose, faint then al- 
most deafening, and we knew that the "Redeemer" 
was approaching. He appeared on the platform, still 
smiling that probably uninterrupted smile of the 
morning, bowing right and left, and an expression, 
rather touching, of happiness and satisfaction dis- 
tinguished his whole being. He was still on the dizzy 
heights of his wish and hope. I remember thinking 
suddenly of the old Provencal proverb: "God keep 
thee from the she-wolf and from tiiy heart's desire." 

He was accompanied by his wife, two red spots of 
excitement on her usually sallow cheeks, her eyes 
very bright, and by General Pascual Orozco, the 
"military genius" present at all determining mo- 
ments of Mexican history, true god of her machine.^ 
Even Madero, frankly and sincerely anti-militarist, 
could not exorcise his presence at that moment of 
complete "legality." Doubtless, too, he preserved 
some secret sympathy for his comrade, still in the 
pleasantly irresponsible position of "revolutionario." 
No one was going to ask Orozco to divide up the land, 
or harry him about the budget. 

Concerning the military genius, a more inevitable 
and essential figure in Mexico than a President, and 

*The private secretary of the unalphabet bandit recently come to 
power is also another inevitable figure of any Mexican drama, but 
of hiui another time. 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 143 

whose species will persist through revolutionary 
eons, becoming extinct only when, as an organism, 
it finds no food for its being, I would like to quote 
Francisco Bulnes, who knows his Mexico as he does 
his doubtless empty pockets. Nearly four years ago 
he predicted that Obregon, Carranza's "militaiy 
genius," would one day be President. 

The following bird's-eye view of the history of 
military geniuses in Mexico will be enlightening to 
those few who desire to be enlightened as to Mexican 
political arcana : 

"General Guadalupe Victoria, the hero of the war 
of Independence, associated with General Santa Ana, 
revolted against the Emperor Iturbide and won the 
supreme power by means of a military coup. Another 
Independence hero. General Vicente Guerrero, car- 
ried his revolt against President Victoria to a suc- 
cessful termination. General Anastasio Bustamente 
in turn ousted General Guerrero from the presiden- 
tial chair by force. General Santa Ana, the next 
military genius, by means of a military coup over- 
threw President Bustamente in 1832 and again in 
1841. Santa Ana's great friend, General Mariano 
Paredes y Arrillaga, in his capacity of military 
genius, betrayed him by means of a military coup and 
General Gabriel Valencia retaliated by overturning 
Paredes y Arrillaga to reinstate Santa Ana, who re- 
turned from exile to reassume the power by virtue 
of the Guadalajara coup executed in his favor. Gen- 
eral Ignacio Comonfort, the military genius of the 
Plan de Ayutla, was loyal to President Juan Alvarez, 
but General Manuel Doblado. Comonfort's associate, 
initiated the revolt of San Luis Potosi, and President 



144 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

Alvarez prudently v/ithdrew to his estates in the 
soTith. General Felix Zuluaga, intimate friend of 
Comonfort, betrayed him through the Taeubaya coup, 
and General Miguel Miramon, a brilliant military 
genius, turned against Zuluaga, and overthrew him. 
If the French had not appeared in 1862, General Gon- 
salez Ortega would have carried out a revolt against 
President Benito Juarez. General Porfirio Diaz, the 
military genius of 1869, launched his Plan de la 
Noria and would have unquestionably overthrown 
Juarez had the latter not been called to his final 
accounting on July 18, 1872. As the military genius 
of the day, General Porfirio Diaz was able to carry 
out his coup against President Sebastian Lerdo de 
Tejada and by this means ultimately became Presi- 
dent in 1876. General Bernardo Eeyes, converted 
into the military genius of the day, prepared to re- 
volt against General Diaz, but his courage failed him 
at the critical moment and he fled, leaving the 
apostle, Francisco I. Madero, heir to a carefully pre- 
pared revolution. Pascual Orozco's flaming sword, 
or, to be more exact, his flaming rifle, won the victory 
for Madero, thereby earning him the title of military 
genius and the subsequent obligation of revolting 
against Madero. The 'Apostle' was saved by 
Huerta's sword, and his victories over Orozco pro- 
claimed him the military genius of the day. Huerta 
following historic precedent, betrayed Madero and 
permitted the latter's Reyista or Felicista enemies to 
put him to death. The military genius. Villa, be- 
trayed Carranza, and in the natural order of things 
Obregon will be obliged to betray his chief." 
This, too, has fulfilled itself, and the Mexican ship 



FRANCISCO LEON DE LA BARRA 145 

of state is putting out on one of its periodic voyages 
into the political Mare Ignotum, in which, alas, more 
reefs than Happy Isles are found. 

Pascual Orozco, standing, November 6, 1911, on 
that rear platform in the fast-falling tropical night, 
was a lineal descendant, unbroken, perfect as to type, 
of every military genius since the early days of 
Mexican Independence. Huerta, when his turn 
came, took up the succession without a differing fea- 
ture except the essential one of the interference of the 
United States in Mexican politics, which has occa- 
sioned one of the crudest and longest fratricidal wars 
of history. 

How often Huerta was to say to the American 
Charge : 

"I did to Madero only what he wanted me to do to 
Diaz. How is my act worse than his?" . . . 

The attention of that great crowd at the station 
focussed itself finally on the rear-platform of the 
special train, where, enfolded in the transient and 
beautiful tropical half-light, stood in high and com- 
plete relief, President Madero, on his right ex- 
President de la Barra, on his left Orozco, the "mili- 
tary genius." Mr. de la Barra, international, suave, 
smiling, immaculately dressed, showing no evidence 
of the difficulties of his months of office, was entirely 
the diplomat departing on a foreign mission, in the 
enjoyment of a "belle gare." Orozco, in uniform, 
towered head and shoulders above his two com- 
panions. About him was the usual quiet assurance of 
all successful Mexican revolutionists. He was of the 
northern ranchero type, prominent nose, high cheek- 



146 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

bones, and a dark mustache covered a cruel, deter- 
mined mouth. An American who knew Orozco well 
described him to me as "a tall, raw-boned man, igno- 
rant and dreamy, but really beloved by the Mexican 
people of the Northern States." This divergence of 
opinion shows how difficult is the analysis of any 
Mexican situation. 

Between these two men stood the President of a 
few hours. His broad, speculative forehead showed 
very white, and his eyes and beard quite black as the 
light began to fade. The movements of his head had 
grown automatic ; he had been bowing uninterrupted- 
ly since he left his house in the early morning? His 
smiles was irremovable. He was, with General 
Orozco, to accompany the ex-President to the next 
station. Villa de Guadalupe. Several times he raised 
his arms and attempted to speak a few words, but 
nothing could be heard for the loud "vivas" of the 
crowd, sounding from fences and trees and cars on 
the sidings. I was suddenly overcome with sadness, 
as in the pale blue night that had fallen the train bear- 
ing "el Presidente Blanco" moved slowly out of the 
station to those hoarse, continued plaudits, leaving 
the Indian world to darkness and Madero. 



PART THREE: FRANCISCO I. MADERO 

SAN PEDRO, COAHUILA: OCTOBER 4, 1873 — MEXICO CITY: 
FEBRUARY 22, I913 

"One man with a dream at pleasure 
Shall go forth and conquer a crown." 



PART THREE: FRANCISCO I. MADERO 

"One man with a dream at pleasure 
Shall go forth and conquer a crown." 



CHAPTER XIII 

Mexico, 1911, in the Process of Eedemption. The Entry of the 
"Messiah" into the Mexican Jerusalem — His First Appearance 
on the International Stage at a Dinner at the German Legation 
— The Generation According to the Flesh of the Twentieth Cen- 
tury "Eedeemer of Mexico." 

Few men are great of themselves alone, mostly 
they are reckoned so because their qualities have com- 
bined successfully with events. Fewer still owe all 
their greatness to events. Such an exception was 
Madero. 

When I first set foot on Mexican soil, May 5, 
1911, it was electrically charged, there was a tingling, 
a buzzing in the air, something unexplained yet ter- 
ribly potential seemed at work. All eyes were turned 
to the "Magnetic North," where a small-statured man 
of unpicturesque and thrifty antecedents, with bulg- 
ing forehead, flattened nose, black beard, sallow skin, 
and burning eyes, was combining in his single under- 
sized person the triple role of prophet, Messiah and 
apostle. Even these roles did not overtax his powers. 
Unlike the prophets foretelling the destruction of the 
Temple, he cried that he had found a quarry from 
whose shining stones new temples, automatically, 

149 



150 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

without any sweat of the brow, were to be raised. 
Unlike the Messiah he did not profess that there must 
always be humble and great. Unlike the apostles he 
promised riches in this world to each and every one. 
It was all more than life-size. 

This contagion of fancy spread swiftly, overpower- 
ingly, not confining itself to Mexicans alone. Even 
the proverbial, cold-eyed foreign investor, who ought, 
according to the laws of contagion, to have been im- 
mune, was seized with it, its first symptoms being a 
sort of political myopia. From the visible Mexican 
world, which, like all things human, was composed 
of both good and ill, was to arise a state composed 
of good alone. It was all anti-historic, anti-philo- 
sophic, against experience, against good sense, 
against public and private interest, and yet it pre- 
vailed. No one looked towards the Maderista glare 
without being blinded. . . . 

Wandering about Vera Cruz in that thick, soft 
night, scented by unknown flowers, shot by reflections 
of dim, half-hidden lights, cut here and there by un- 
familiar silhouettes who were talking in voluble 
and strange accents, I had a consciousness of 
being indeed in a foreign land. To it all was added 
the thrill of the magnetic potentialities of a nation 
about to be regenerated ; and though the regeneration 
as far as we newcomers were concerned was mani- 
fested by tales of dynamited bridges, cut water-mains, 
broken telegraph lines, and sudden changes of prop- 
erty unrecorded before the law, it did not dispel the 
illusion. The Mexican individually and nationally 
is able to put something mysterious into his most 
ordinary and indifferent acts, and at this moment 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 151 

commonplace and stupid destruction was aureoled 
in redemption. I even thought of the majestic pro- 
nouncement that our own state "was conceived in 
wars, born in battle and sustained in blood'' and 
expectantly, in an imaginative and somewhat hypno- 
tized state, I took as it were "woven paces" up the 
gorgeous, scented road, from Vera Cruz to Mexico 
City, where the gifts of Mother Earth, from orchid 
and coffee to pine and wheat, show themselves 
ranged as on shelves. At last T found myself en- 
veloped in that glittering, thinly-spun air of the 
Plateau, magic, suggestive, beautiful. 

And enchanted, I entered into that country of 
illusions where easily "one man, with a dream at 
pleasure, could go forth and conquer a crown." 

The first things were disappearing without the last 
things having taken their place. But neither I nor 
any one knew it. 

In defense or rather excuse of the Maderista move- 
ment, we must allow that Providence chooses 
strangely diverse instruments of salvation for 
nations. One can never know. France was saved at 
one time by a young virgin in glittering armor, on 
horseback, visibly inspired. Another time she was 
saved by a man of seventy-eight, wearing a gray busi- 
ness suit, gray suede gloves and a slouch hat, a heavy 
white mustache completely concealing his mouth, 
which harbors a sharp though golden tongue. And 
his eyes were extraordinary. . . . 

Madero, at the age of thirty-three — the Christ age, 
as his disciples often pointed out — began his public 
life and teaching. He spent the first part of it a 
martyr in prison. Later he was a martyr out on 



152 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

bail. His "Sucesion Presidencial" was his gospel ac- 
cording to himself. He saw the past, he saw the 
present ; the f uture, with which he was, unfortunately 
for Mexico, exclusively concerned, was impenetrably 
veiled. He was accompanied in all his detentions 
and on all his journeys by a passionate and resolute 
consort, like himself small, ineffective in her person, 
probably of superior will, but not an instrument of 
destiny. She accompanied him as the "soldadera" 
accompanies her man in all Mexican camnaigns. She 
was in this quite true to type. 

A story which I have at first hand will illustrate 
something determined and slightly atavistic in her 
make-up. On being asked if she did not fear to travel 
in the out-of-the-way places to which her husband's 
destiny often led her, she pulled a vary long and very 
thick hat-pin from her hat, saying quite simply: 
"This will suffice." 

Of Madero's initial sincerity no one has ever raised 
a doubt. His honesty was apparent to every one who 
approached him; his lack of preparation for govern- 
ment was proven immediately he came to power. 

He did not have the equanimity of soul necessary 
for statecraft, nor the energy for the quick decisions 
imperative for government in Latin-American coun- 
tries or anywhere in fact. One day when talking 
with Mr. de la Barra of the difficulties of his ad- 
interim Presidency he said to me with a look of 
conviction : 

"In my country it is essential that those in power 
be able to judge swiftly, preserving at the same time 
some measure of personal serenity." 

Madero, on the contrary, was rash in all his prom- 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 153 

ises, indiscreet, in all lie said, vacillating in all his 
acts and passionately unreflecting in all his judg- 
ments. On the face of it, had the nation been sane, 
it would have been known that he was not the man 
to govern Mexico. 

The first time I saw him was on the afternoon of 
the 7th of June, 1911. In the early morning a tre- 
mendous earthquake had shaken Mexico City to its 
foundations. Many looked upon the heralding of the 
"Messiah" in this manner as a favoring sign from 
heaven, — others had doubts. Later, standing in the 
motor drawn up in front of our house in the Calle 
Humboldt, after hours of waiting, I caught a 
glimpse of a ghastly-pale, dark-bearded man in a car- 
riage, bowing continuously to right and to left. His 
departure from his ancestral home in Parras was 
one of the most remarkable human experiences ever 
recorded. Personal ovations such as no Csesar knew 
were proffered him. He could have walked over a 
corduroy road of the faithful from the Rio Grande 
to the Capital, had it been in the twentieth century 
note. Every town he entered was as a Jerusalem, 
and he entered it literally to the waving of palms and 
the shouting of Hosannas. The sick were brought in 
on the backs of their families from deep in the coun- 
try — to be healed by a possible touch of his coat- 
tails, or a glance of his eye, or they w^ere laid on 
pavements or roads over which he had passed. The 
entry into Mexico City was the least of it. He 
then, being human after all — was suffering from a 
sick headache brought on by excitement, and loss of 
voice brought on by promises of everything to every- 



154 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

body. He went to the house of his parents in the Calle 
Liverpool and collapsed for twenty-four hours. 

The next time I saw him was at our Fourth of 
July celebration in the very banal setting of the Ti- 
voli Eliseo, — like any picknicking ground anywhere, 
brass bands, confetti, pink lemonade, besides other 
more exotic accessories. In corners were cock fights 
and games of chance. I was just leaving when I 
heard an approaching, swelling, mob-like cry. It was 
at last the apostle whom we had been expecting for 
two hours. The indistinct cries resolved themselves 
into shouts of "Viva Madero," "Viva el Inmaculado," 
"Viva el Incorruptible," "Viva el Redentor." I 
waited on the fringe of the crowd from whence I 
could see, standing by the table I had just quitted, 
the man who had but a moment before heard himself 
called "Redeemer," He almost immediately began to 
speak. His voice had a magnetic quality, the flow of 
words was smooth, uninterrupted, his gestures were 
rhythmic. I was still in a half dream at finding 
myself in that strange and gorgeous land, and I came 
away after awhile under the suggestive influences of 
that crowd and its master, whom I had at last seen 
at his work of hypnotizing Mexico. I vaguely felt 
that the hypnotic state was his normal condition; 
and certainly it was extraordinarily contagious. 
When I got home — I wondered, but not to any special 
end. I was in Mexico, in that country where the im- 
probable is separated from the probable by a flimsier 
curtain than elsewhere, where atavistic qualities are 
always appearing and giving an unexpected turn to 
situations. 

The next time I saw him was at the German 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 155 

Legation, von Hintze being the first of the foreign 
ministers to give a dinner at which he and his wife 
were present.^ 

He was then at the height of his popularity, the 
ad interim Presidency of Mr. de la Barra relieving 
him from the necessity of fulfilling his promises. 
Later, every promise he had ever made came home to 
roost, the political chicken coop being full to burst- 
ing, and he proved to have a rapacious, relentless, 
impatient family of singularly large dimensions, 
some members of which were a good deal cleverer 

* Diplomatic Days, page 74 July 10th. 

* * Last night the German minister gave his first big dinner at -which 
the Maderos making their debut in official international life, were 
the 'clou' ... I found the large room rather full, with a hitherto 
unsampled Mexican contingent. . . . Madero seen at close range, is 
small, dark, with nose somewhat flattened, expressive rather prom- 
inent eyes in shallow sockets, and forehead of the impractical shape. 
But all this commonplaceness is redeemed by expression playing like 
lightning over the shallow, featureless face and his pleasant, ready 
smile. He speaks French and some English, preferring the former, 
but lapses continually into Spanish, his volubility being too great to 
brook a foreign medium, and he uses many gestures. There was 
something about him of youth, of hopefulness and personal goodness, 
but I couldn't help wondering if he were going to begin the national 
feast by slicing up the family cake. 

"Madame Madero might be a dark type of New England woman, 
with a hint of banked fires in her eyes. .There is determination in the 
cut of her face, which is rather worn, with an expression of dignity. 
She, too, is small and thin and was dressed in an ordinary, high- 
necked black and white gown, a narrow 'pin stripe' with the most 
modest of gold broaches fastening the plain high collar. 

"(Later she was to show a fondness for heavy velvets, dark 
brocades, thick laces and plumed hats, more fitting to something 
passionate and dominating in her temperament than to her small 
person). . . . Madero told N. at dinner that no revolution had 
ever been carried through so cheaply from the standpoint both of men 
and of money. . . . He seemed very militaristic, considering tliat he 
was come to bring peace, and somewhat suspicious of the United 
States. N, suggested his falling in with the views of the U. S., in 
the regulating of claims, and he said the following in French: 'You 
Americans always act on the presumption that we Mexicans are 
always in the wrong. ' . . . This was in answer to N. 's remark : ' Now, 
Mr. Madero, you are going to be President and I know when your 
Government gets in you will clear up all matters pending between 
the two countries.' "... 



156 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

than lie — thougli they had not been singled out by 
destiny, except as accessories. 

His father was a spare, straight-featured, chin- 
whiskered, dark man, with perhaps some Jewish 
blood, — who knows? But it was his grandfather, 
Evaristo Madero, a singularly competent man of 
affairs, who had laid the basis of the tribal fortunes 
in Monterrey. It is said that his death was caused by 
his dismay at finding himself the grandfather of a 
Messiah. Naturally constructive, acquisitive and 
prudent, he foresaw ruin and loss of all he had 
gathered together, though this was not to come 
about, as logic demanded, by a preliminary distri- 
bution of the immense Madero, estates among the 
poor. When he died at Monterrey in the spring of 
1911, aged eighty-two, he left to fourteen children, 
thirty-four grandchildren and fifty-six great-grand- 
children, an honest name and a princely inheritance. 
Madero's father was also a skillful man of affairs, 
though less gifted. When I saw him, surprise at the 
stupendous turn in the fortunes of the clan had not 
disappeared. In his family he was an affectionate 
autocrat. His children, after the amiable Mexican 
custom, kissed his hand and called him "papacito" 
when greeting or taking leave of him. 

He had a very Mexican way of looking about him, 
something strange and concealed lay in his glance, 
and what has been called ^'Mexican methods" were 
well known to him. He, too, was a careful, thrifty 
man ; what he had he intended to keep. Whenever the 
land should be divided, he would see to it that his own 
remained intact. The blood of the landlord was in 
his veins and in the veins of his sons, and neither he 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 157 

nor they ever made the slightest attempt to put into 
practice upon their huge estates the principles of the 
Maderista revolution. They continued, after the cus- 
tom of their forefathers, to use the half-enslaved 
labor they controlled in the time-honored manner. 

Madero's mother was a woman of more than usual 
energy, who must have been handsome in her youth, 
and her bearing showed a very natural pride in being 
the mother of a saviour, as well as of nine or ten 
other more or less glorified offspring. Such was the 
"stem of David," the generation, according to the 
flesh, of the twentieth-century "redeemer of Mexico," 
and the appearance of a Messiah in that family was 
completely unexpected. 

There was a patriarchal effect about it all that was 
not, however, displeasing, the external picture one of 
dignified provincals not over-given to mirth. Indeed 
the only one of them who could really laugh was the 
unfortunate Gustavo, a born "profiteer," an arch- 
itypal "rasta," with a light in his single eye, and few 
things human (of a sort) were foreign to him. He 
repeated to me, on one of the few occasions on which 
I saw him, his famous remark, that "of a family of 
clever men the only fool was President," which did 
honor to his perspicacity, if not to his taste. It has 
been said by many that Gustavo Madero was the evil 
genius of his brother, but Madero's evil genius was 
born from within and nourished by his own qualities, 
more inexorably, more sequentially than any that 
could have operated from without. He simply did 
not have the governmental virtues necessary to his 
position, though he was essentially honorable, and 
profoundly respectable in the narrowest sense of the 



158 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

word. Gustavo was probably neither of these things, 
and he was very active. 

Such figures appearing on the Latin-American 
political scene are visibly predestined to violent 
deaths. The hour alone is hid. 

Gustavo Madero was completely cynical (all the 
wise were) about his brother's promises of free land, 
finding them also stupid and dangerous. He told me, 
with that same light very bright in his single eye, 
the pleasure-loving lips of his amiable mouth some- 
what tightened, looking more "rasta" than usual in 
a brown suit and a red necktie and something flashy, 
I forget what it was, about his cuffs: "The people 
won't get the land, they never do anywhere. It's not 
only in Mexico as foreigners seem to believe. And as 
a cry for developing social unrest, it can't be beaten," 
he added, somewhat treacherously to the Maderista 
creed. 

He was organizer of the celebrated "Porra," a sort 
of Mexican political "ring," but which has been less 
kindly described by one who was not in it, as "an 
association of demagogues enlisted for the purpose 
of terrorizing society and the enemies of the govern- 
ment, replacing the fear of bayonets by the terror 
of mobs." 

The operations of this association necessitated the 
handling of a good deal of money in the big way of 
promoting business ventures, in the small way of 
paying the individual ruffians and incipient liberators 
composing the mobs that shouted about the streets, 
and there was a quantity of buttered parsnips for 
intimate friends. Gustavo was also quite active in 
recomposing political shapes and shades in the 



FEANCISCO I. MADERO 159 

Chamber, and he was periodically harried by 
opposing parties to give an account of the 700,000 
pesos got by him from the Federal Treasur-y for 
certain expenses of the Revolution. 

His clever and agreeable uncle, Ernesto Madero, 
who having real gifts was doubtless often anxious 
as to the final family destinies, at last presented a 
statement^ showing that at least nearly one of the 
seventy-two millions that Don Porfirio left in the 
Treasury, even at that early date, found its way to 
the "step-sister Republic" to the north. 

* Buying of arms, munitions and equipments in the TJ. S. . . $154,000.00 
Honorariums of lawyers in New York, Washington, San 

Antonio and El Paso 53,000.00 

Confidential agency in N. Y. City 6,000.00 

Confidential agency in Washington 5,000.00 

Confidential agency in San Antonio, Texas 18,000.00 

Confidential agency in El Paso, Texas 15,000.00 

Press campaign 12,000.00 

Sending envoys, journeys and minor expenses 54,000.00 



Total $319,000.00 

(American dollars). 



CHAPTER XIV 

Madero Haranguing an Enchanted Mob — His Eeliance on the World 
of Spirits — Novena at the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe 
With Senora Madero — A Hint of Prgetorian Guard — The Vice- 
President, Jose Maria Pino Suarez — The Always- Fatal Office. 

The house in which the Madero family lived was 
on the corner of Calle Liverpool and Oalle Berlin, 
entered by a small Bougainvillaea-covered veranda, 
with a narrow hall opening into a couple of large 
drawing-rooms, done up very uninterestingly, — not a 
book anywhere, and the bric-a-brac evidently there 
because one cannot have etageres or center tables 
without them. In the furthest room was a grand 
piano, Angela, the youngest of the two sisters, having 
real musical gifts and a charming, naturally-placed 
voice. . 

From a window of this same house as I was passing 
by, one crystal-aired morning, in those days just 
preceding his inauguration, I saw Madero haranguing 
an enchanted mob of unshod but generously-hatted 
expectants. The scene was extraordinary. As he 
flung down promises in that flowing voice of his, 
they flung up "vivas," and one woman with a baby 
at her breast and several, not much older, at her 
ragged skirts, was crying herself hoarse with "esposo 
de Mexico," bridegroom of Mexico. The "esposo's" 
face wore a constant though mobile smile, his eyes 
were frequently turned upwards, his gestures were 

160 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 161 

continuous. The trees were brown with Indians, the 
streets crowded with others bearing banners stamped 
with his portrait in the hardest of colors, the inky 
black of the beard especially spotting the blue sky 
against which they floated, and there were litho- 
graphs of like manufacture nailed to sticks. 

He presented a general whose name I could not 
catch, a rather flashy-looking man, stouter than Mex- 
icans usually are (he may possibly have had an 
early chance at the flesh-pots), wearing a good deal 
of gold braid and a bandolier full of cartridges. 
Evidently nobody wanted to see the accessory instru- 
ment of regeneration, for the crowd ignored him and 
continued to shout "Viva Madero." There was all the 
jo}' of anticipation on both sides. Within two years, 
February, 1913, this being October of 1911, the house 
was burned and sacked by what the newspapers of 
the moment styled "la furia popular." On returning 
to Mexico City I was to find it a mass of charred 
walls, roofless, windowless, swallows flying in and 
out of it, and, looking at it, very natural thoughts 
concerning the inconstancy . of popular favor 
awakened within me. Since then I have come to feel 
(and not without anguish have I sloughed off the 
more radical convictions of the former woman) that 
I would rather put my faith in princes than in 
crowds. There is something formless, elusive, irre- 
sponsible and completely destructive about the rabble 
that defies appeal. There is not even a throne-room 
to which they can ultimately be tracked and held re- 
sponsible; you cannot assassinate them, and their 
judgments are always given in a blind rage of love 
or hate. 



162 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Madero's faith in his own predestination was 
bolstered up by what he believed to be manifestations 
of extreme partiality from the spirit world. Years 
before, as a very young man consulting the planchette 
with other young men, he had, on asking what profes- 
sion he should adopt, received the answer that one 
day he would be President of Mexico. This I have 
heard confirmed by a member of his family — ^who 
found it extremely difficult to deal along the lines of 
fact and expediency with one who "in addition to 
being illumined was also predestined." It was in 
fact a combination impossible to handle. 

My husband going once to see Madero at Chapul- 
tepec Castle on affairs, found him in bed, ill of a 
fever. On the little night-table by his side was a 
planchette of dark wood and many bits of crumpled 
paper were thrown about. The visit was pursuant to 
orders from the Ambassador to present a note con- 
cerning an urgent frontier matter. The sight of the 
planchette, though not pertinent to the frontier, was 
certainly confirmatory of his reliance on the other 
world, when conducting the affairs of this. As for 
Senora Madero, who was supposed to serve as her 
husband's medium and interpreter, I never myself 
saw her in this role, nor heard anything beyond 
vague, unconfirmed hints of it. I did accompany her 
on many occasions in the big Benz motor which was 
part of the presidential paraphernalia, to the Shrine 
of the Virgin of Guadalupe — and whatever the spirits 
to whom she may have lent herself for the conduct of 
State affairs, she was certainly capable of rapt 
and ardent supplications to the one Great Spirit. 
Her passionate solicitude for her husband knew no 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 163 

bounds, and she was doubtless ready to invoke any 
aid. Her small, thin figure with its head bowed 
before the silver altar of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 
the dim Basilica, in and out of which countless In- 
dians were coming and going, I shall not forget. It 
is difficult to understand these apparent contra- 
dictions. Probably like all playing with great 
chances she was superstitious and propitiatory. The 
Madero family in their various ramifications were 
quite frankly Catholic. 

It was at the time of this novena to the Virgin of 
Guadalupe (March, 1912) that Orozco announced 
that he would shortly be in Mexico City and would 
hang Madero to the largest tree in the Plaza Mayor. 

Orozco, seeing where promises had led JIadero, did 
not concern himself to make any, but he treated his 
prisoners so well that they could be counted on to 
promptly swell the ranks of his followers. He 
had quite a season at Chihuahua that winter of 1912, 
when balls were organized in his honor and he danced 
with the first and fairest in the town, always dom- 
inating physically with his great height and broad 
shoulders any gathering he attended. There were 
also rumors of Mr. de la Barra's imminent return 
from Europe. In view of the fact that things had 
gone steadily from bad to worse, many had begun to 
sigh for the sincerity, good sense and tact of which 
"el Presidente Blanco" had given proof. 

Madero was always hungry for visible signs of 
popularity. Unfortunately he went to the extent of 
mistaking them for signs of national prosperity. His 
constant smile and his simple and natural manners, 
so expressive of his innate honesty, were among his 



164 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

best governmental assets. But he did not know how 
to punish, neither was he quick to reward. Successful 
statesmen do both. He was completely, fatally 
amateurish, and what was needed was technical gov- 
ernmental skill. He had a natural antipathy to mili- 
tarism in any form, but in the end he was obliged 
to have recourse to the army to sustain himself. 
The touching confidence in his people that marked 
the early days of his incumbency, when unattended 
he went about, his presidential duties, was gradually 
invaded by a hint of Prsetorian Guard. At the 
time of the revolt of Felix Diaz in Vera Cruz, 
October, 1912, he must have known what everybody 
else knew, that the Federal Government was sus- 
tained by force of arms rather than by the virtues of 
its President. 

His natural habitat was the clouds, which, when 
they parted, showed only a few dazzling peaks. The 
eternal rocks of Mexican political personalism was 
what he was dashing against, and he had not the 
slightest instinct as to the whereabouts of the harbor 
entrance, nor could he use the compass. Unfor- 
tunately, instead of some private bark, it was the 
Ship of State that he was steering. 

He was, however, in a prophetic yet obscure way 
to utter a then unheeded truth, but which in the 
years since has been testified to in blood and hunger 
and disease by the peoples of the earth: "The first 
requisite for a country's prosperity is peace, not 
liberty." It was in October of 1912, not quite a year 
after his inauguration, on which auspicious date 
Liberty had been the magic word, the "open sesame" 
to the Elysian Fields through which the whole Mexi- 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 165 

can nation was to pass, that he publicly proclaimed 
this. He added further, in advocacy of a bill for 
compulsory military service, "It would seem, if we 
judge by the past history of Mexico, that it is more 
difficult to preserve peace when liberty exists than 
when it does not." 

A word concerning the Vice-President, Jose Maria 
Pino Suarez, who was to share a few of Madero's 
honors and all of his misfortunes. He was a tall, 
slim, good-figured man, dark-haired and mustached, 
with regular features and sore eyes. He was reckoned 
of about average intelligence, making a not too showy 
lining for the Presidential cloak, which Madero was 
rarely tempted to flap back just to show what it 
looked like inside. His political gestures seem to have 
been of the imitative order, and he spent much time 
with Gustavo. He was, too, after his way, a dreamer 
of dreams, and had produced several volumes of 
unimportant poetry. 

The only resemblance between the office of Vice- 
President in Mexico and in the United States is 
the name. One is as the violet mostly born to blush 
unseen and unsung. The other, in the arena of Mex- 
ican politics, resembles those unexploded bombs 
picked up for souvenirs on European battlefields. 
They always go off. 

Of Pino Suarez' wife I only vaguely remember an 
amiable smile, a stoutish silhouette, and some anxiety 
as a hostess, though this was perhaps only as regards 
foreign ladies. Her tea-table I well remember, of gilt 
and marble, under the strong light of a central 
chandelier of pressed brass. It was laden with an 
unusual number of painted and beribboned boxes of 



166 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

bonbons, and there were magenta bows on rather stiff 
bouquets of loud-colored flowers. She was sur- 
rounded by relatives — madre, comadre, madre- 
politica, hermanas, tias and primas. She had, too, 
manj'" children. In the hallway was a large baby 
carriage, the kind for twins, or children whose ages 
vary by but ten months, as often happens in Mexico. 
They all inhabitated a big and draughty house in 
the Paseo de la Reforma, furnished throughout in the 
style of many "Louis" run together. "Epoca de un 
Luis, pero cual yo no se." 

When this rather colorless person, Jose Maria 
Pino Suarez, according to the strange and arbitrary 
values Fate places on ihe actors in any State tragedy, 
became Madero's running mate, he became also one 
of the elements of his final political unpopularity. 
At the moment of the elections the streets resounded 
to cries of "Pino — no — no — no," in cadenced but dis- 
pleased accents. He had been an obscure editor of an 
unimportant Yucatan newspaper, and it proved 
entirely superfluous for Madero to have gone so far 
to get him. However, insignificant as his role was in 
life, from all time Fate had destined him to be the 
companion of Madero's last hour, and to lie with him 
in death. There is little else to be said of Jose Maria 
Pino Suarez except, "peace to his soul." He has 
but gone where all must go. 



CHAPTER XV 

Madero Dwelling on the Heights — The Terrace of ChapiiUepec — The 
Pyramid of the Sun at San Juan Teotihuacan — My Farewell to 
President Madero. 

I have gone into detail concerning Madero's ante- 
cedents and character reacting to environment, be- 
cause without some knowledge of them Mexico's 
situation to-day is not diagnosable. The actual events 
of his incumbency, lasting not quite sixteen months 
and found in any chronological table of the period, 
are less enlightening. The weakness of the instru- 
ment which finally destroyed so strong a thing as 
the Diaz Government reveals the presence of some 
essential dissolvent in the nation. The elimination of 
this very active element, for permanent racial and 
climatic reasons, will probably never be entirely 
accomplished, and in any theories (or fact^") con- 
cerning government in Mexico must always be taken 
into account. 

Madero came and went a sort of Mexican Pied 
Piper. The nation abandoned every usual occupation, 
every "visible responsibility, every normal activity to 
follow him, and it was to the abyss. To the very edge 
of it he preserved his own illusions. His great card 
was "legality"; it must always win. As the French 
Minister said, he was "more convinced of his rights 
than Louis XVI, more persuaded of his legitimacy 
than Louis XVIII." He played this card till no one 
knew if it were an ace or a two-spot. 

167 



168 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

I nearly always saw Mm on some height, generally 
on the terrace of the Castle of Chapultepec. The hill 
of Chapultepec, crowned by the castle, is a small, 
strangely isolated eminence, so situated that east, 
west, north or south the iridescent rim of the incom- 
parable valley of Mexico is everywhere visible against 
a dazzling sky. The valley is so enchanting, so 
bewitching in the shifting beauty of its light, that 
as one looks upon it the struggles of the dark and 
passionate race whose heritage it is can scarcely be 
taken into account. 

Madero, living on those heights, was suspended 
bodily, as well as spiritually, above the realization of 
human needs and human means to their alleviation. 
The vague desires in his breast for general peace and 
individual happiness for Mexicans seemed already 
realized as he looked on that encantatory prospect, 
which was his on awakening, his at night, and com- 
pletely exorcised realities. 

Once I stood with him on the top of the Pyramid 
of the Sun at San Juan Teotihuacan, where his geo- 
graphical and atmospheric environment also cor- 
responded perfectly and fatally to his psychology. 
This was on the 28th of February, 1912. Within the 
year almost to a day, he was sleeping in the French 
cemetery of Mexico City. 

The solitary eminence on which we stood put every- 
thing in a mirage-like, deluding perspective, and we 
were enfolded in a dazzling ambiance. Formerly on 
the apex of the pyramid there had been a splendid 
temple containing a gigantic statue of the Sun, made 
of a single block of porphyry, ornamented with a 
heavy breast-plate of gold. There now was Madero, 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 169 

for a short time, at least a half-god viewing from 
the great height the kingdom given into his keeping., 

His expression was soft and speculative as he gazed 
about him. He seemed strangely removed from the 
difficulties of his situation, lifted above them as he 
was above the shining plain; but in the city, glitter- 
ing in the distance, intrigues and dissolving forces of 
all kinds were at work against him. The far and 
splendid hills towards which he was one day to try 
to flee, were colored in cobalt and verde antique. It 
was the world of fancy, not of fact. 

With beauty so supreme and so misleading forever 
throwing its veil over the dark shape of events, how 
shall Mexican situations present their true forms? 
And must natural beauty and political disaster for- 
ever go hand in hand in a land where Nature is more 
powerful than man? 

Madero would pace the terrace of Chapultepec, his 
unacquisitive hands behind him, his eyes vague as 
they rested on the crystalline rose and blue of the val- 
ley and hills, his smile gentle as he thought his kindly 
thoughts. He used to wear a brown suit, with a pea- 
cock-blue hand-worked vest, that summer of 1912, and 
he was doubtless still quite happy, living within the 
world of his own benignant desires, confident in his 
"luck." 

The last time I ever saw him or his wife* was on 
that terrace. 

On October 5th of 1912, a few days before our first 

* From a letter from Madame Lef aivre, "wife of the French Minis- 
ter to Mexico, picturing another scene: 

"April 21, 1916. 

"Yesterday I called on Madame Madero. I was told that she lived 
completely isolated, abandoned by her friends and treated with com- 



170 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

departure from Mexico, I drove up the winding 
way in the white morning, flowers were shining softly 
along the embankments, the trees were feathery, 
unsubstantial, birds were singing. It might have been 
the road to Paradise instead of to the abode of care. 
I found the President standing at the glass doors, 
before the grand stairway, about to get into his motor 
to go to the Palace for a cabinet meeting. The Vera 
Cruz revolt of Feliz Diaz was then brewing, and was 
declared but a few days later. He looked years older 
than when I saw him at the German Legation. Lines 
were about his eyes, he seemed slightly puzzled, but 
the morning clouds of the dazzling day still enfolded 
him, and that implacable progression of Mexican 
events was doubtless still as shadowy as the half re- 
membered figures of the dream of a night. 

After making my adieux to him I was shown out 
on the Pompeian Court, where Madame Madero 
awaited me, worn too, but still determined. . . . 
About us were the perfumes of the rare and lovely 

plete indifference by the Carrancistas, who however continue to call 
themselves the ' avengers of the great apostle. ' 

"She received me very coldly and stiffly, though with dignity. 
I was somewhat surprised, but thought it was doubtless the proper 
attitude of the wife of a martyr according to Mexican ceremonial. 
At last, however, I understood her, when with vibrating voice and 
raised hand, she cried out to me that the European war was the 
punishment of God on the peoples who had recognized the traitor 
Huerta. Probably she held me personally responsible for France! 
She is greatly to be pitied. She adored the unfortunate madman and 
now she finds herself alone, abandoned, in her little widow's weeds, 
she who once, garbed in spangled dresses, shared his triumphs in 
the castle of Maximilian. She raved for quite a while, complaining 
in loud tones of the United States, and above all of the American 
Ambassador. She added, 'Christ found one traitor among his twelve 
friends ; my husband found many. ' She seems still to identify him 
with the Saviour. 'If he had remained in power the universal peace, 
preached by him would now reign upon earth. ' I thought to myself 
how he had brought about a fratricidal war instead, but it was not 
the moment to mention it, ' ' 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 171 

shrubs of the patio, the splash of the fountain, the 
singing of birds, the lustrous hills, the shining vol- 
canoes; a crystal air enfolded us, closer than human 
touch, but from beneath, from the restless city some- 
thing disturbing arose, prophetic of the shifting will 
of the Mexican people. 

I never saw either of them again. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Madero on His White Horss Eides to His Doom — Huerta Takes the 
Leading Role in the Mexican Drama — The Fatal Night of the 
22nd of February — The Closing of the Madero Act. 

Madero was to believe in what his followers called 
his "luck," in what he himself thought his divine 
mission, to the end. He had a brief, transcendent 
prestige in the Republic at a moment When he 
seemed to personify all national aspirations. Later 
there grouped themselves about him men whose 
passions, ambitions and appetites his high office 
enabled him unconsciously to gratify, while "the 
people" had less than before. He seemed to have, as 
it were, two souls, which were unknown to each 
other and in no way dependent on each other, but in 
the void between them Mexico was lost. 

It was further borne out by Madero how little 
practical use there is in a man's good intentions, the 
only tangible but insufficient merit being the ardor 
that prompts them. Be this as it may, a nation of 
15,000,000 beings became the subjective feature of 
one man's soul, and not a single fact of national 
existence had place in it. 

The attacks of the Press,^ magnified and popular- 

^A detailed drawing of "The Last Supper," showing Madero in 
the place of Christ, Gustavo as Judas, and eleven other members of 
the Madero family seated about the table, was typical of many 
offensive and demolishing cartoons. After their appearance the much- 
vaunted "Liberty of the Press" disappeared. 

172 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 173 

ized the ridiculous aspects of his person and his 
environment, which lent themselves easily to cari- 
cature; the inconsistence of his "politique" with the 
principles he had so loudly enunciated; his complete 
failure to develop his administrative program equally 
loudly j)roclaimed and his unexampled lack of tact in 
his official and social relations partly explain his ruin. 
He was, too, a "pathological case," and would have 
presented in the curious duality of his being, together 
with his insensibility to facts, a wide opportunity for 
experiment. 

What was, inexorably, to happen to him in the end 
can be illustrated by two or three tragic and shifting 
pictures. 

On February 9, 1913, without any suitable solici- 
tude for his situation as President, without any pru- 
dence concerning his person, he rode on his white 
horse at the head of a few hundred men, mostly only 
mounted police and Chapultepec cadets, down the 
Paseo, through the Avenida San Francisco to the 
National Palace. The city was then in full revolution. 
When he passed through the Plaza Mayor, he found 
it encumbered with hundreds of dead and dying. 
That same day Huerta was made military com- 
mander of the city. The first act of the Decena 
Tragica had been played. 

On Saturday the 15th of February a secret session 
of the Senate was held, the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs, Den Pedro Lascurain presiding. The Mex- 
ican situation was noisy by reason of the bombard- 
ment of the city, delicate by reason of the fact that 
telegrams had been received from Washington reveal- 
ing the decision of the American Government to send 



174 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

warships, carrying land-forces, into Mexican waters. 
For three days the Senators endeavored to procure 
an audience with Madero, but without success. They 
had in their pockets the following resolutions : 

First: That the President of the Eepublic be 
advised, in view of the supreme necessity of saving 
the National sovereignty and restoring peace, to 
tender his resignation. 

Second : That the Vice-President do the same. 

Third : That a commission be appointed to inform 
President Madero and Vice-President Pino Suarez of 
the decisions the Senate had arrived at. 

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs suggested that 
all the Senators then present betake themselves to 
the National Palace, to appraise the President and 
the Vice-President of their decisions. This was 
unanimously approved, and the twenty-five Senators, 
accompanied by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 
went immediately to the Palace, where they cooled 
their honorable heels for nearly an hour. They were 
then admitted into one of the ante-rooms of the Pres- 
ident's office, when after another wait, they were 
finally informed by Senor Ernesto Madero that the 
President, only twenty minutes before, had left the 
Palace, accompanied by General Garcia Pena, to visit 
the military positions of the Government; all this to 
the lively sounds of the bombardment of the town by 
the troops of General Felix Diaz entrenched in the 
Citadel, and the Government forces scattered 
throughout the city. They besought Don Ernesto to 
tell the President of their decisions and to beg him 
to render this last supreme service to the country, 
saying that his resignation at that moment could 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 175 

but redound to his own glory as well as to his coun- 
try's good. They even pointed out that it would 
entitle him to the gratitude of posterity, w^hich last 
notoriously causes few thrills in the human breast, 
and is but slightly determinative of action. Their 
more potent and final plea was fear of complications 
with the United States if peace were not immediately 
restored ; without it, national independence would be 
jeopardized. This they considered a danger which 
should influence all personal considerations, and 
urged that the most legitimate rights be surrendered 
for the greater safety of the country. 

The Honorable Ernesto Madero flanked by the 
Honorable Manuel Bonilla, Minister of Public 
Works, and the Honorable Jaime Gurza, Secretary of 
Communications, having no authority, and probably 
no desire, to accede to their demands, the Senators 
and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs finally took 
their leave. 

On Tuesday the 18th, the Senators were still hot on 
the trail of resignation, or as one of their writers 
more elegantly puts it, "they did not relinquish their 
patriotic purpose." They were finally, early on the 
morning of this day, received by President Madero 
who was, by that time, under no illusions as to what 
they wanted. But his reiterated answer to their 
demands was that he represented "legality," and 
strangely enough the "Apostle," the "Bridegroom of 
Mexico," ended by saying that he "would rather be 
the ruler of a people of corpses, of a nation in ruins, 
than resign." 

The twenty-five withdrew from the interview con- 
vinced that there was nothing to be done, — in that 



176 INTIMATE^ PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

way. They proceeded to the Military Commander — 
Huerta. It is recorded that he showed no visible 
eagerness, though he did not "thrice refuse a kingly 
crown." It was told him, and I have no doubt but the 
words were pleasant in his ears, that the alternative 
before him was fidelity to Madero, or fidelity to the 
interests of the country. 

It is recorded that he said very little, and sat very 
still. He let them, moreover, get as far as the door 
where it is also recorded that he stopped them say- 
ing: "I, too, gentlemen, am greatly exercised over 
conditions prevailing in the country and in Mexico 
City. I cannot strike the blow that you suggest, but 
I could refuse to recognize President Madero, if 
directed to do so by the legislative and judicial 
bodies. Confer with the men invested with these 
powers, and if the two bodies agree, I will consider 
the advisability of telling President Madero that he 
must at once resign." 

Upon this the Senators withdrew, leaving Huerta 
in a state better imagined than described. The apples 
of the Hesperides, — power, fame, activity, authority, 
consideration, gleaming in their golden beauty were 
within his reach, the things all men desire, save the 
sage — and even he cannot deny their value. 

The Senators returned shortly, accompanied by an 
eager majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court. 
All were worn out by the bombardment of the city, 
the national infelicities, and the evident incompe- 
tence of the chief executive. Huerta thereupon "con- 
ferred" with his offlcers. Two of them did not agree, 
— General Felipe Angeles and General Jose Delgado. 
These he then quite simply excluded from the con- 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 177 

ference, and later still more simply put under arrest. 

But he had what he needed for his new-born pur- 
pose — the sanction of the legislative bodies. . . . 

Later on this same morning of the ISth of Feb- 
ruary, as Madero was seated with various members 
of his cabinet in the Sala de Consejos de Ministros, 
an ornate room hung with yellow brocade, its ceiling 
embossed with the Imperial fleur de lys,^ Lieutenant- 
Colonel Riveroll appeared before him, and pursuant 
to orders, asked him on behalf of the Senate and the 
Army for his immediate resignation. Madero listened 
to Colonel Riveroll in perfect calm, but as he finished 
drew his revolver and fired at him. He fell dead. 
Major Izquierdo, who was waiting at the door, rushed 
in, and was also shot dead by one of Madero's aides, 
Captain Garmendia. The President, who was a man 
of physical courage, then without hesitation pre- 
sented himself at the main entrance of the Palace. 
When he saw the armed force standing there he cried, 
"Here, Senores, is the President of the Republic." 
There was silence. General Blanquet ^ in an elegant 

* This room had further magnificent hangings of green broadcloth, 
held by massive gold cords, and a thick carpet with corner designs, 
representing the national arms. In the center was a splendid table, 
surrounded by chairs, that of the President bearing a golden eagle. 
On the table, besides the leather portfolio in front of each chair, was 
a great silver inkstand, once the possession of Maximilian, from which 
the imperial crests had been erased to be replaced by the letters 
P. N. (Palacio Nacional). Two fine French clocks, orce also his 
property, ticked out this other historic hour. 

' General Aureliano Blanquet was held in good repute by every 
chief he served. Diaz found him loyal and competent. Huerta, not 
over-trustful of men, had full confidence in him. He was of handsome 
and rather noble presence, in spite of his mixture of blood, — some 
said he was a Zambo (a mixture of Negro and Indian), others that 
he was of the usual Mestizo blend. He was contained of speech, 
Tsdth a kind mouth and something brilliant in straight-looking eyes. 
Legend places him as a young boy among the firing squad at 
Queretaro, that fatal 19th of June, 1867, when under a sky of 
faultless beauty, Maximilian, Miramon and Mejia stood against the 



178 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

black uniform, with miicli gold braiding that set off 
his handsome face and dignity of mien, revolver in 
hand, in front of his battalion, went towards him and 
having ordered that no shot be fired, took him 
prisoner with his ministers. They were all incar- 
cerated in the Palace. 

A foreigner of long Mexican experience said that, 
when the great bells of the Cathedral rang out to 
announce the fall of Madero, the news was received 
with undisguised satisfaction by the inhabitants of 
the capital. It was at noon of February 18th that this 
took place. Accompanying the sounds of the bells 
were new cries of "Viva Huerta." That afternoon 
between five and six, against the richly-colored lining 
of that first darkness which follows the short 
crepuscular beauty of the Mexican plateau, Huerta 
and General Blanquet showed themselves on the 
balcony of the Palace. 

adobe wall half way up the Cerro de las Campanas. I knew him 
only during the Huerta regime, and the last sight of him remains 
with me, standing in his general's uniform, his breast ablaze with 
decorations, in front of Huerta 's house in the Calle Alfonzo 
Herrera. We had come out through the patio after the signing 
of the marriage contract of Huerta 's son, Victor. The morning, 
diamond-dusted, indescribable in its shining beauty, was that of 
the 23rd of April, the day of the breaking off of relations between 
the United States and Mexico. Huerta, clad in the celebrated gray 
sweater and brown slouch hat, had given me his arm, General Blan- 
quet had given his to the President's wife. Erect, immobile, his 
face ashine in the brilliant air, he held his hand at his cap as we 
drove off. In 1918 he started to organize a revolt against the Car- 
ranza regime, leaving Cuba in a small skiff with four or five fol- 
lowers. After landing on the beach between Vera Cruz and Tuxpam, 
and waiting for a few days for Feliz Diaz, who had promised to 
meet him there, Blanquet and his followers went toward the interior 
and met a small body of Felieistas. They were attacked by Car- 
rancistas and most of them surrendered. Blanquet tried to es- 
cape, plunged into a barranca and met his death from the fall. 
Carranza ordered his fine old head to be exposed on a pike in Vera 
Cruz, where it remained till nature had obliterated both its form 
and likeness. 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 179 

Huerta, "the military genius," come into his inevi- 
table own, cried to them : 

"Mexicans, brothers, there will be no more fighting. 
Peace is here." 

Deafening shouts of "Viva Huerta," and "Viva 
Mexico," followed this pronouncement. 

As these two men stood on the balcony, ex-Presi- 
dent Madero and ex- Vice-President Pino Suarez 
were prisoners in some sparsely furnished rooms, 
slightly above the level of the palace courtyard, before 
which constantly changing guards had been placed. 
And their days were numbered. 

Huerta had in the meantime sent out the following 
manifesto ; 

"To the Mexican People : 

"In view of the difficult circumstances under which 
the nation, and within the last days the Capital of 
the Republic have labored, in view of what I may call 
the state of anarchy due to the incapable government 
of Seiior Madero, I hereby assume the executive 
power. Until the Chambers can meet and debate 
upon the present situation, I shall hold Francisco I. 
Madero and the members of his cabinet, to the end 
that this point being settled, and every effort being 
made to unite all minds in this historical moment, we 
may all work together to reestablish peace, which 
for our nation is a matter of life and death. 

"Issued in the Executive Palace, February 18, 1913. 
"The General Military Commander in charge 
of the Executive Power: 

"V. Huerta." 

He also arranged his status with the foreign 
missions by sending the following announcement to 



180 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

the American Ambassador, in his capacity of dean of 
the diplomatic corps : 

"To His Excellency the American Ambassador, 
Present : 

"The President and Vice-President of the Republic 
are now in my power at the National Palace as 
prisoners. I trust that your Excellency will interpret 
this act of mine as the patriotic manifestation of a 
man who has no other ambition than to serve his 
country. I beg your Excellency to accept this act as 
one which has no further object than to restore peace 
in the Republic, and to ensure the interests of its 
children and those of the foreigners who have brought 
us so many benefits. I offer your Excellency my 
greetings and with the greatest respect I beg you to 
bring the contents of this note to the attention of 
His Excellency President Taft. I also beg you to 
convey this information to the various diplomatic 
Missions in this city. 

"If your Excellency would honor me by sending 
this information to the Rebels at the Ciudadela, I 
would see in this action a further motive of gratitude 
from the people of this Republic and myself towards 
you and the always glorious people of the United 
States. 

"With all respect, I am, 

"Your Excellency's obedient servant, 

"V. HUERTA. 

"General in Chief of the Operating Army, and Mili- 
tary Commander of the City of Mexico. 
"Mexico, February 18, 1913." 

One can feel in these words the conciliatory, cau- 
tious procedure of Huerta, at the same time his defi- 
nite settling down into the creaking Presidential 
chair. 

The American Embassy naturally, automatically, 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 181 

was the center of activity. The Ambassador had been 
tireless in his efforts to protect life and presei've what 
order was possible, the other plenipotentiaries sec- 
onding him in every way. The Cuban Minister had 
the cruiser, C«5rt, in Vera Cruz harbor in read- 
iness to take away the Ex-President, the Ex- Vice- 
President and their families. 

It was arranged that at ten o'clock on the night 
of the 19th they should leave for Vera Cruz, accom- 
panied by the Cuban Minister and an official of the 
Japanese Legation, where the parents of Madero had 
taken refuge. The arrangement was communicated 
to General Blanquet, who approved it. It was im- 
possible to see Huerta, who was asleep and had given 
orders not to be disturbed. When finally informed 
of the arrangement he appeared over-prudent, even 
nervous as to the safety of Madero, which he was 
astute enough to know would involve his own. He 
was not yet, he said, in a position to guarantee suf- 
ficient protection for the trip, nor to be responsible 
for the temper of the population of Vera Cruz. What 
he doubtless really feared was that Madero, on his 
arrival there, would raise a cotinter-revolution. He 
decided, fatally, to keep him, for a while at least, in 
Mexico City. 

In the meantime the Ministers of Spain and Cuba 
obtained permission to see Madero. He greeted them 
gratefully, hopefully. The Cuban Minister sub- 
sequently passed the night with him, as Don Ernesto, 
his uncle, had said that if he could have the pro- 
tection of the diplomatic corps for that night, the 
dead center of danger would be passed. At one o'clock 
in the morning, Madero, spent with the anxieties and 



182. INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

fatigues of his situation, desired to rest. He pre- 
pared, in the gloomy room, two beds made of 
chairs, one for himself and one for the Cuban Min- 
ister, Mr. Marquez Sterling, who recorded that after 
Madero lay down, he fell immediately into a quiet, 
child-like sleep. This was the night of the 18th to 
the 19th of February. 

It had first been arranged, for reasons which I 
ignore, that his resignation should be given into the 
hands of the Chilian Minister. Subsequently it was 
put into those of Don Pedro Lascurain, whose appear- 
ance at this moment as god of the Mexican machine 
is disconcerting to reason. He was a man of the 
strictest probity, of great piety, of unsullied repu- 
tation, of calm judgment, of much discretion. Yet he 
was selected by Fate to carry the resignation of 
Madero and Pino Suarez in his honest and prudent 
pocket. Again the reasonabilities, the suitabilities 
were defied by the working of Mexican magic. 

Shortly before noon on Friday the 21st, there was 
a Cabinet meeting in the Palace, lasting until two 
o'clock. The legal status of the prisoners, the ex- 
President and the ex- Vice-President, was very 
puzzling and unsatisfactory to the jailors as well as 
to those jailed. Mr. de la Barra on this occasion 
begged Don Rodolfo Reyes, in his capacity of Minis- 
ter of Justice, to state on what technical grounds 
they were incarcerated. He answered that he had 
not the necessary papers, but considered it of vital 
importance that definite legal proofs of Madero's in- 
competency be forthcoming. Don Jorge Vera Estaiiol 
was of the same opinion, and Huerta was equally 
desirous to make the matter sure, at least enough so 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 183 

to prevent the upsetting of the presidential chair. 
He said further on this occasion that he did not con- 
sider the Palace a safe place in which to keep Madero 
and Pino Suarez, and then making a gesture as if 
throwing sometliing up in the air said that a paper 
had been discovered on Madero that could only have 
been thrown in at his window. This indication that 
he could be communicated with and perhaps event- 
ually helped to escape, which was not in Huerta's 
plan, made him add that he thought it better that 
very same day to transfer the prisoners to the Pene- 
tenciaria. 

Mr. de la Barra then asked Huerta: — 

"Exactly what has he done?" 

Huerta replied with a sweeping, long-armed ges- 
ture and an impatient and contemptuous glance: — 
"Everytliing. He has ruined the country. Any one 
of his deeds is sufficient to convict him." 

"Yes, that may be, but definite charges must be 
lodged against him with the Minister of Justice." 

The last words, the unanimous decision of all, were 
that, in the interests of the country, whatever was 
done must be done according to the strict letter of 
the law. 

When, however, the fatal transfer of the prisoners 
was made, Huerta took no counsel of his ministers. 

The next day, Saturday the twenty-second, the 
President with his cabinet assisted at the annual cere- 
mony held at the statue of George Washington^ 

* This statue which I saw unveiled in the presence of President 
Madero, his cabinet and the diplomatic corps, in 1912, was to be 
dragged from its pedestal two years later and placed at the feet 
of the statue of Juarez, in the Avenue da Juarez, on the night of 
the 23rd of April, 1914, the date of the breaking off of diplomatic 



184 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

in the Plaza de Dinamarca, Mr. de la Barra, Minis- 
ter for Foreign Affairs, making a speech and Mr. 
Henry Lane Wilson, American Ambassador, respond- 
ing. 

In the afternoon was the reception at the Embassy. 
Huerta and the Ministers of his cabinet were present 
and all were very calm, especially Huerta, whose 
face was inscrutable. Mr. de la Barra on this occasion 
formally presented to the diplomatic corps the mem- 
bers of the new cabinet. 

It was towards midnight of this same day that the 
murder of Madero and Pino Suarez took place, as 
they were being transferred from the Palace to the 
Penitentiaria, There is a man living. Colonel Carde- 
nas, in charge of their escort, who knows how it 
came about, and he has never spoken. . . . The veil 
covering the disaster is still, after seven years, im- 
penetrable and was woven as follows : 

At eleven-thirty of that same evening, Mr. de la 
Barra was awakened by the ringing of the telephone. 
A person calling himself an aide-de-camp of President 
Huerta asked him to come immediately to the Palace, 
that a motor had been sent to fetch him. 

Given the unquiet state of the town, his wife, 
hourly awaiting her deliverance, begged him not to 
go without some further guarantee. He therefore 
asked to speak with General Blanquet, who imme- 
diately came to the telephone. His voice was very 
agitated ; he confirmed the words of the aide-de-camp, 
begging him to come without delay as the matters 

relations. It is only fair to say that Huerta, polite even at that 
moment, had the statue removed as promptly as possible from this 
startling and unseemly position. 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 185 

concerning which he wished to inform him were too 
grave to be communicated over the telephone. 

At that moment Don Alberto Garcia Granados, 
who lived near by, arrived at his house. He had 
hastily thrown on a suit over his night garments — 
his coat collar was turned up and his shoes were not 
laced. He too had been asked to come to the Palace 
without a moment's delay. 

As they drove in through the great patio they 
noticed an unusual coming and going of officials at 
that late hour. They w^ent upstairs by the elevator 
built in the south corner of the Palace giving on the 
Plaza de la Constitucion. 

As they got out they saw Huerta, who was evi- 
dently on the watch for them, coming towards them 
in a state of excitement that he was endeavoring to 
repress. He was in civilian clothes, and wore the old 
brown slouch hat of story, the brim well pulled 
down over his eyes, which were further concealed by 
his large spectacles. What could be seen of his face 
was deathly white. 

"I have the gravest news to communicate to you," 
and as he spoke he drew them hastily through the 
large chamber where the cabinet meetings were held, 
into the small room known as the "Sala Particular 
del Presidente." 

Once there, he closed the door quickly, saying with 
a very nervous gesture: — 

"Madero and Pino Suarez have been killed." 

There was dead silence which Garcia Granados and 
de la Barra broke to say, 

"How is that possible?" "How could it happen?" 

"In a skirmish," Huerta answered, becoming more 



186 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

and more agitated, "between the small armed force 
that was conducting them, and a group of persons 
who were endeavoring to liberate them." 

"I thought you had transferred them safely last 
night, as was the intention," Mr. de la Barra cried 
in consternation. 

Huerta made no answer but continued to pace the 
room, pushing his slouch hat somewhat back, reveal- 
ing further his alarming pallor and the fixed look 
in his eyes. There was something in his glance that 
indicated that he had been drinking, though his step 
was even and there were no "copitas" in the room 
which showed, however, other signs of occupation. 

General Mondragon, also present, then pointed out 
the possibly fatal consequences to the government, 
saying that it was imperative that he immediately 
produce the proofs, sure to be demanded, that things 
had taken place as he said. 

"What proofs do you need?" Huerta asked, adding, 
"I will see that you get them." 

Mr. de la Barra then told him that a person entirely 
outside of politics alone could be put in charge of the 
investigation, some one like Don Jose Vasquez Tagle, 
who was President of the Consejo Supremo de Jus- 
ticia Militar. He was also the brother of the former 
minister of the Justice of Madero and the public 
would not consider him biassed in his decisions. 

Huerta turning to General Mondragon said with 
an evident air of relief: 

"That is an excellent idea. I beg you to act on 
Seiior de la Barra's suggestion. See that Vasquez 
Tagle begins his investigation immediately." 

Then he suddenly began to thump the table with 



FRANCISCO I. MADERO 187 

liis fist, muttering indistinct words. He had kept, 
during the conversation, one of his favorite, small, 
black cigarettes in his hand, but would contin- 
ually let it go out, relight it in a restless manner, or 
throw it away, and light another. His voice had its 
drum-like beat, though more muffled than usual; he 
continually squinted his eyes, with the misleading 
Sphinx-like look peculiar to him, accompanied by the 
familiar and frequent gesture of pressing his spec- 
tacles closer against his forehead. It was evident that 
he was highly stimulated in addition to his very nat- 
ural nervous excitement, and that his Indian soul wai^ 
the prey of alarm, vexation and perhaps fore- 
boding. . . . 

The event still wears the Iron Mask; in which 
it differs from that of the assassination of Carranza, 
which is as recognizable as the proverbial palm of 
one's hand. ^ 

It was with the deepest misgivings tfiat Garcia 

*I once asked Mr. de la Barra, as we sat in his library in Paris 
evoking these tragic events, long since past, but whose fatal con- 
sequences are even more evident now than then: 

"What do you really know about it all? It is part of history 
now, your country 's history and mine ! ' ' 

He answered me slowly with an expression that forced conviction 
on me: 

' ' I know no m.ore than I have told you, no more than you of the 
circumstances of the assassinations. I have always been inclined to 
think it was some terrible mischance, and as disastrous to Huerta him- 
self as to any one. From time to time things would come to my ears, 
but they were generally confirmatory of Huerta 's story. After seven 
years nothing has ever come to me in concrete form to disprove it." 
He paused a moment. "1 never liked Huerta, though I knew him 
to be strong and able in maxiy ways. ' ' 

I thought, as he spoke with an expression of distaste on his face, 
how very far removed his personality and Huerta 's were — as apart 
as the poles, as heat and cold, height and depth, or other dissimilar 
things. I was even more understanding of them than they of each 
other, yet for a time they turned together, or tried to turn the spoked 
wheels of Mexican government upon whose revolving depended their 
own fate and the fate of their country. 



188 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Granados and de la Barra shortly took their depart- 
toe, leaving Mondragon and Rodiolfo Reyes with 
the President. On the way back, as they drove 
through the dark town, they discussed hastily the 
presenting of their resignations, but came to the con- 
clusion that such an act would be, and very naturally, 
considered as definite proof of the j)articipation by 
Huerta in the crime ; that it would be impossible to do 
such an injustice to a man of whose guilt they had no 
proof, also that further and equally irreparable 
national catastrophes might follow such action. They 
separated at one-thirty. That morning, in the un- 
quiet city, Mr. de la Barra's youngest son was 
born. . . . 

The Cruiser, "Cuba," when it finally left Vera 
Cruz on the 25th of February, took with it the 
parents, widow, sisters and uncle of the "Redeemer." 
He himself slept in the Panteon Frances, while in 
the Spanish cemetery slept Pino Suarez, awaiting 
both, something kinder than the judgments of men. 

The Madero episode was closed. Family and State 
were ruined. 

The death of few public men is as significant to 
their country as their lives. If they have done well 
their good deeds remain; if they have done badly 
their death is a benefit; rarely does their going hence 
multiply either the good or the evil of their coming. 

An honest man was gone, but the words of Porfirio 
Diaz to Madero on the occasion of their single 
meeting were written in flaming letters in the Mexican 
heavens : 

"A man must be more than honest to govern 
Mexico." 



PART FOUR: VICTORIANO HUERTA 

COLOTLAN, STATE OF JALISCO: DECEMBER 23, 1854 — 
EL PASO: JANUARY I3, I916 

"Huerta must go" 



His rise to power and his use of it, 
including his ambitions, Ms cruelties, his 
expedients to sustain his government in face 
of the President of the United States, his 
puerilities, and various other qualities and 
attributes that combined to make him "un- 
speakable" — Considerations on Spanish- 
American Politics — Huerta's relation to his 
environment — His ruin, involving that of 
Constitutional Government in Mexico — His 
seizure, imprisonment without trial, and 
death at El Paso. 



PART FOUR: VICTORIANO HUERTA 
"Huerta Must Go" 

CHAPTER XVII 

First Sight of Huerta — Hia Antecedents — Diaz Chooses Him 
to Escort Him on His Exit from Mexican History — The Manner 
of Huerta 's Accession — The Curtain is Rung Up Disclosing the 
Stage Set for the Tragedy— The "Pale Scholar of the White 
House" the Hero; the Dark Indian the Villain — Appearance 
of the Blue-eyed Norseman, 

Victoriano Huerta crosses the red background of 
Mexican history as a somber Indian Caesar, come to 
power by the sword, sustained by the sword, suc- 
cumbing finally to the personal enmity of a super- 
Caesar, embarked on the first of his private wars. 

Huerta has been rightly called a "unique zoological 
specimen" ; as unique as the sea-serpent or the uni- 
corn and, one might add, like the Minotaur he 
exacted much tribute, and like the Phoenix he often 
rose from his ashes. He was, in fact, not diagnosable, 
but I will attempt to describe him and his habits as 
one might any curiosity of nature, also the sociolog- 
ical conditions under which he was born, came to 
power and perished. 

I first saw him in the chic French restaurant of 
Mexico City kept by a Gaul, Silvain, who had been 
a chef in the Czar's household. It was a bemirrored, 
plush-divaned, brass-chandeliered, not over-clean 

191 



192 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

establishment, with any number of what the Viennese 
call "charmants separes." 

I noticed a uniformed man sitting at a little table 
before one of the since world-advertised "copitas," 
not eating, with several other men of the same war- 
like, open-air aspect who were eating, as well as 
drinking. There was an unmistakably "redemptory" 
look about the group and I asked, "Who is the 
bronzed, flat-nosed General with the restless eyes and 
big glasses?" 

It was Huerta at that moment, August, 1911, in 
Command of the Federal troops operating in Morelos 
against Zapata. He had waving, long-armed ges- 
tures, and broad shoulders, and when he stood he 
was unexpectedly short. There was a suggestion of 
"memento mori" in the rather death's head shape jof 
his face, the skull formation in moments of excite- 
ment, as I afterwards came to see, being curiously 
apparent. That he had real military talents no one 
has ever denied, and doubtless any means were 
acceptable to his ends. In this he did not differ from 
more exalted generals of history. 

It would appear that Huerta had acquitted himself 
competently (from the point of view of his superiors) 
of the various charges committed to him up to the 
time when he unfortunately became "unspeakable." 

His star, seemingly, of no great magnitude, had 
suffered various eclipses before its full appearance in 
the Mexican heavens. At one time, when Diaz' army 
unluckily was on paper, rather than ready for 
the field, and the calls for gifted and unscrupulous 
warriors were few, he found himself overseer for 
building operations in the city of Mexico. It is said 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 193 

that he got a good amount of work, in his own special 
way, out of his workmen. But that was not, of course, 
what he was born for, and was so purely accidental 
that it is scarcely worth mentioning. He had also 
been Inspector for the National Railways in another 
period of peace and was for years tlie head of the 
Geodetic Survey. This last necessitated some^imount 
of book-learning and, in the making of his maps, a 
considerable acquaintance with the racial and physi- 
cal composition of Mexico, but it also was not what 
he was born for. He had e\idently been of more than 
average intelligence from the beginning, though his 
star was not visible till he was nearly sixty. 

He was first discovered in his native town of 
Colotlan, by a passing general who needed some 
one to do secretarial work, and he was the only 
one who could easily read and write. He had taken 
the fullest advantage of the veiy poor schooling his 
native town offered and was ready when Fate and 
General Guerra passed by. Later he was brought to 
the attention of Diaz who placed him in the Military 
Academy. I learn from the most accurate of sources 
that Don Porfirio, who certainly had a neat flair for 
men's abilities, had an excellent opinion of Huerta, 
recognizing in him a few rare and elemental qualities. 
He saw that he was not at all like anybody else, and 
did not expect him to be. Of complete sobriety him- 
self, he regretted (with the rest of the world) as well 
as other only too apparent defects, his "copita" habit. 

It would seem that the appraisement of that con- 
summate reader of men's hearts and attributes should 
not be quite set aside. Huerta was then in his 



194 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

eleventh lustrum and what he would be in the future, 
he already was. 

About a month before the resignation of President 
Diaz, Huerta, who was commanding troops in More- 
los, had been sent for to give an account of his oper- 
ations against Zapata. He had come alone in an 
automobile from Ouernavaca, through a country 
inhabited by a population, the greatest desire of 
whose males was to take the Porfirista general 
prisoner. The President who had rather lost sight of 
him, was very much impressed with the calm and 
careless manner of his arrival in Mexico City, and 
because of this accidental happening, selected him as 
chief of his escort to Vera Cruz on that last tragic 
journey from the glittering heights to the dark sea 
of old age, exile and death. He knew he was brave, 
and he thought he was lucky. As to the last of these 
attributes, he was, however, mistaken. He was also 
persuaded of his complete loyalty and said, as he 
made the choice: — "He will give his life for me, if 
need be." 

By one of those strange gestures of fate, generally 
quite visible in Mexico, Don Porflrio himself thus 
gave to Huerta's destiny a definite shape and trend. 
It was Huerta's first passing across the stage of the 
vast drama, other than in the chorus. It was Porfirio 
Diaz' last choice of a man for service. 

It was even told me by one of the loveliest of 
women that when he accompanied the Iron President 
on that last sorrowful journey to Vera Cruz, he was 
"divinamente perfecto," and there was doubtless in 
him, intuitive as he was, something that made him 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 195 

alive to the high and tragic significance of what was 
hajDpening. 

It was with emotion, and every mark of 
respect that he received the "Greatest Mexican," 
broken with physical pain, rejected by his people, at 
the station, in the small, wee hours of that fatal 26th 
of May, 1911, and escorted him to the waiting train. 
The arrangements had been made by the President of 
the National Railways, Mr. E. N. Brown, who was 
also present, to receive the illustnous exile. The 
cortege consisted of a "locomotiva exploradora" that 
went ahead of the train wherein the great man lay 
silent in pain and grief, thinking who shall say what 
thoughts. An escort train with troops brought up 
the rear. Huerta passed constantly from one to the 
other, pausing occasionally, doubtless, to "fortify" 
himself. At one point an attack was announced, he 
had the order of the trains reversed, and after many 
anxieties, with tears and an abrazo he embarked his 
illustrious master safely aboard the historic Ypir- 
anga. 

There is not the shadow of a doubt in my mind as 
to what he proceeded to do, and do thoroughly, once 
his task was accomplished. He is not the only general 
known to fame and fortune who has so closed an 
epoch. 

From that date according to the turn of military 
events he was often in the foreground. 

He himself said to the American Charge that he 
had had various opportunities to overthrow the gov- 
ernment much better than that he finally took. He 
was in command of important bodies of troops during 
that summer and autumn of 1911, and was among 



196 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

those who then scented the complete incompetence 
of Madero for government, despite his unquestioned 
virtues. 

Again during the brilliant cami>aign he carried 
out for Madero against Orozco he was in control of 
the army and he said he could easily have done it 
then — ^but he remained faithful to Madero as rep- 
resenting constitutional government, though he had 
a temperamental contempt for a man who neither 
rewarded his friends nor punished his enemies. 

Later, according to his own statement, he became 
convinced, in company with about 99 per cent, of the 
population of Mexico (including even those who 
could not read and write, and who had no land 
and never will have), that Madero was not competent 
to govern and that disaster was imminent. What- 
ever his involved Aztec reasonings, whatever his 
crimes, whatever his personal aims, it was he, or 
another, possessing perhaps more virtue, probably 
less talent. The iron fist was again indicated by 
events, as over and against the caresses of a senti- 
mental democracy. It was drawn in fire in the 
heavens. It was written at every crossways. In the 
logic of things, the dark, passionate, but alas, loosely- 
woven fabric of Mexican government, needed once 
more to be gathered together by some strong hand. 

The manner of Huerta's accession was not of Ms 
invention. Throughout Latin-America it was sanc- 
tioned by precedent and confirmed by usage. He was 
so innocent of any possibly unpleasant criticism of 
his very logical procedure, that as one of his com- 
patriots says of him, "Drunk with joy and rum," he 
sent a telegram cheerfully, openly to Washington in 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 197 

which he iinsiispectiDgly stated that he had '^over- 
thi'own the government." There was nothing within 
his liistorical radius to cause him to even dream wliat 
he was getting into. 

Now every government in Mexico since the days of 
Viceroys has come into being by a revolution, or 
througli a military coup. There is no other way, — 
except that of evolution, and a people cannot suspend 
all government during that admittedly slow process. 

Some of the South American countries (with here 
and there sanguinaiy revei*sions to pure type) have 
evolved processes of government that do not always 
necessitate arms or murder. Not so in Mexico, where 
the Huerta Government was born and baptized 
according to the time-honored and only ritual. 
Naturally no one could convince Huerta of the right 
or reason of the United States to object to the act 
in itself. After the recognition of the Benavides gov- 
ernment of Peru, which had fairly slopped about in 
blood, with attendant flight of those whose hour had 
not yet sounded, he realized completely that it was 
a purely personal matter. There was no i^rinciple 
involved; it depended, in the usual arbitrary way of 
human judgments, on whose ox was gored. 

In the summer of 1913, his Minister for Foreign 
Affairs, Senor Federico Gamboa, had drawn up one 
of the most dignified and masterly appeals a weak 
nation ever sent to a strong. It lies to the eternal 
credit of Mexico in general and its author in partic- 
tilar. But like all such appeals its success depended 
on the appelee. It holds within its few pages the 
entire case of Mexican sovereignty and is, furtlier, 
examined in the light of subsequent events, the first 



198 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

cry registered for "Self-determination," which rather 
fluid expression was not then showing any signs of 
crystallization. It has since been worked out (in 
spots) in Europe, with the result that the Wilsonian 
Europe resembles that of the Thirty Years' war, 
though some one has gone so far as to say that that 
was a dove-cote compared to 1920. When formulated, 
the doctrine of self-determination was seen to be, like 
all things, even truth, very relative. There were those 
who could "determine" and those who could not. It 
depended entirely on who was doing it and 
where. . . . 

When in that August of 1913, the curtain was 
definitely rung up, it disclosed the stage set fully for 
the vast Mexican tragedy. It had been cleared of 
nearly all the accessory characters, when there 
appeared a man of Viking origin, the pale Northman 
of Romance, with a blue and agreeable eye, causing 
the dark drama to develop somewhat along the lines 
of extravaganza. I refer to a man, whom personally 
I liked, doubtless because of something similar, or 
extremely dissimilar, in our beings. 

He appeared from that upper left hand corner of 
the stage, in shirt sleeves, barking his shins, in their 
unpressed trouser-legs, against the stage settings and 
running into several of the dark-skinned characters 
already in full action. In Minnesota Mr. Lind was 
a pillar of society, an ornament to the legislature, an 
asset to the State, desirable from every point of view. 
In Mexico this active and amiable gentleman became 
grotesque. It was not his fault, but Fate's who, tiring 
of the senseless tragedy played by human beings, 
often adds an element of comedy, needing like the 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 199 

rest of us a good laugh from time to time, and, pardon 
my Gallicism, in this case, "il y avait de quoi." 

He arrived somewhat as Lohengrin, — ^by water, 
stepping onto the stage from a barge in the shape of a 
warship, and like this hero he was not to be asked 
whence he came, nor why. Incidentally, we can recall 
that when the questions was really asked, — and in no 
nuptial chamber either, like his prototype, he disap- 
peared from view. . . . 

When Mr. Lind took President Wilson's ultimatum 
to "go" to President Huerta, stating that even an 
election would not be accepted as clearing his title, 
the final clause added that if Mexico would do all 
these things the matter of her so needed loan "could 
be easily arranged." 

Now nations need money obviously, but also quite 
as obviously the bread of life, which is respect for 
themselves. The jangle of the 30 pieces of silver that 
we offered to Mexico and which she did not take, 
will forever ring in the ears of one who opens our 
history at that page. 

To return to the play. We find an old Indian 
atavistic, instinctive, primitive, untutored and com- 
pletely mysterious when the attributes of his undiag- 
nosable and uncatalogued being were in play. He 
was flat-faced, dark-skinned, with small velvet- 
skinned hands, a good deal of movement in the 
skirts of his badly fitting frock-coat, and his long- 
armed, waving gestures took up some space. Behind 
his spectacles was a restless, inductive, deductive 
look when waiting for his cue, in the intricacies of 
the Anglo-Saxon plot from the Aztec point of view, — 
or rather the Aztec plot from that of Anglo-Saxon 



200 mTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

sohitious. And his voice liad a low, drum-like beat. 
His stage properties were anarchy, treachery, blood, 
yenality, and even envy among friends, of his high and 
uncertain office. He was easily the villain of the 
play. He had every disadvantage; he was even snp- 
j)osed to be illegitimate, being pointed at as on the 
very left hand branch of the Presidential tree. He 
had no money, he had few friends, and -these he was 
ready to sacrifice if the country demanded it. Many 
saw blood dripping from his hands. What chance had 
he against one adorned with all the virtues, possessed 
of a then unplummeted erudition, and having alone 
the combination to the safe wherein were contained 
the riches of a hundred million people? 

One might perhaps halt here long enough to say 
that though Huerta was everything else that is not 
nice, he was not of illegitimate birth, his parents in 
the shape of Mexico and the Constitution having 
been duly joined in matrimony, the only formality 
lacking were tlie banns. (There was not time.) So 
this was a libel, pure and simple ; the old story of the 
man who had his watch stolen or stole one — nobody 
remembered which — ^was all-sufficient for a man's 
ruin, after the human way. 

Now the legal (if not moral) genealogical tree of 
Huerta was as follows: — 

Francisco I. Madero, Constitutional President, 
Jose Maria Pino Suarez, Constitutional Vice-Presi- 
dent, their resignations, demanded and given three 
days before their death, were accepted by Pedro 
Lascurain, Minister for Foreign xlffairs, who became 
President by operation of the law. He was President 
but some twenty minutes, which allowed him time, 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 201 

however, to appoint Victoriano Huerta Minister of 
Gobemacion (Interior). After Lascurain's resig- 
nation, given, it is understood, with alacrity, auto- 
matically by operation of the law, the executive 
power fell to Huerta with a provisional character 
and under constitutional promise to call special 
elections. 

This is the technical manner of Huerta's accession 
to power, and according to the Mexican Constitution 
by which it must be judged, there are no doubts about 
its complete legality. 

To return to the play. The hero, whose accessories 
were the lightnings, together with the glorj- and 
wealth before mentioned, of a hundred million 
people, was pale and elegantly clad. He was of 
virtuous origin ; the only blot on his 'scutcheon being 
the fact that, though he had spent his life among 
books, he had unfortunately been but a casual reader 
of Mexican* history. The contest looked so uneven 
that no one could have dreamed that he who was thus 
armed would need sixteen months of time as well. 

Huerta had several peculiarly Indian ways of 
parrying the erudite thrusts, and they w'ere not in 
any book of the game. Sometimes he would disap- 
pear, drop out of the situation, absent himself from 
the scene, reappearing only when events with their 
usual momentum had moved on. Sometimes he was 
present, but he would not pick up the cue — and he 
was completely incurious as to the nature and origin 
of the species called ultimatum. He was also 
singularly and surprisingly courteous towards his 
elegant antagonist (who sometimes did not pick his 
words), though doubtless the large choice of ribald 



202 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

terms offered by the Spanish tongue was at his com- 
mand and were used copiously when in the wings. 

The manner of the pursuance of the unequal fight 
was 'a series of blows beneath the belt, and the incon- 
ceivable thing about it all is that whenever one was / 
dealt the justice-loving American nation loudly 
applauded. 

The more one considers that unequal contest 
(Huerta had within his own being further enemies), 
the more one wonders what would have been the 
writing of history had he been permitted by Fate 
and the United States to work out the Mexican 
situation, in the Mexican way. For as long as Mexico 
is Mexico, Mexicans alone can do it. They will, more- 
over, do it according to the idiosyncrasies of the 
Creole, Mestizo or Indian personality at the moment 
in domination. 

One must always remember that at the time of 
which we are speaking there was a constitution and 
that Huerta had his hand on the throttle determining 
the movements of its most complicated machinery. 
The period of his presidency, to change the figure too 
abruptly for art (but this is nature), was chemically 
more or less disintegrating, even actively destruc- 
tive. A bold but crafty man who stopped at nothing 
might, possibly, if left alone, by the infusion of his 
own qualities into the crucible have produced a 
reaction that later (a few hundred years later) 
would have been tolerable to an Anglo-Saxon scholar 
and gentleman. Huerta was so manifestly, so naively 
iniquitous, in his Stone-age way. 

At any rate it is safe to say that a million Mexi- 
cans who have been served though not saved, would 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 203 

have been still living to testify. Many will say: — 
"Who cares if there are a million fewer Mexicans?'' 
But that is another point of view. 

However that may be, this dark, restless-eyed, 
crafty Indian was a strange opponent for the man 
then sometimes known as the "pale scholar of the 
White House." But his very peculiarities were his 
strength and through those sixteen long montlis sus- 
tained him on his spell-weaving plateau, against the 
man whose power was more than Caesar's, whose will 
was more unquestioned than Peter the Great's, and 
whose methods have proved to be more involved than 
those of any Latin-American Dictator. 

It was again the meeting of extremes. The most 
liberty-loving nation in the w^orld, the most tolerant 
people in the world, installed and suffered a one-man 
rule, never beaten in the world's record. Kings have 
ministers who sometimes die, — Republics have regu- 
lative bodies called Congresses. We had one, but it 
became (like any member) inert and inoperative 
through disuse. Our cabinet, further, proved to have 
no rights and few privileges. I' have come to see that 
the minority rules and will always rule, and of that 
minority a few, and of those few, one, but, good God, 
do not call it "the rule of the people." With us it 
seems to have been simply the majority rule worked 
out to its inevitable end to begin again under another 
form. It has been said, and it appears to be true, 
that species wear out, after which the grave, resur- 
rection, is the law of the political as well as the 
natural world. American institutions became so 
worn out that to one man was allowed unquestioned 
sway in his own country, and the power of life and 



204 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

death over a neighboring and presumably independent 
country. He was furthermore to be allowed later 
from the recesses of his at one time curtained soul, 
to determine the degree and kind of American parti- 
cipation (with all attendant obligations) in the af- 
fairs of the w^orld. Indeed, our indifference towards 
our Constitution in 1919 reminded me, with varia- 
tions of course, of the Mexicans towards theirs. They 
look on the promises of their redeemers with extreme 
indifference, when it is not horror. Redeeming them 
by the Constitution in the shape of a Constitutionalist 
has come to be like promising them showers of gold 
at the rainy season; they simply get wet instead, or 
in another event, showers of bullets are what they 
get. Either way they prefer not to count on Redemp- 
tion, or even on Liberty from a Liberator. Anent this 
last much camouflaged commodity, a large majority 
of those all over the world who have lately tasted it, 
would not be averse to a sweetening dash of the good 
old servitude in the somewhat bitter cup. 

As to our Constitution, we seem, for a space, to 
have had no recordable sensations or thoughts of 
any kind concerning it. 

Now those of us who are honest with ourselves 
(and it is easier to be honest with our neighbor) 
know there is no Liberty,* and the great principles of 
authority and discipline by which nations cise to 
greatness and individuals are made strong are 
for the time being in eclipse. The greatest lie of the 
ages is that which tells us that all men are born 

^ A few weeks ago in a conversation with Anatole Prance I asked : 
"Master, what is liberty?" 

And he answered : " L 'amour de notre eselavage. ' ' (Love of our 
slavery.) 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 205 

free and equal. There is no such thing in nature as 
equalit}^ and nobodj is free. Certain governmental 
forms happily provide, at certain epochs for oppor- 
tunity, and even then what provides opportunity for 
one nation and one century brings tyranny to 
another. . . . 



CHAPTER XVIII 

The Coup d'etat in General and in Particular — Some Analysis 
of Huerta's Psychology in the Days Preceding His Accession to 
the Supreme Power, and a Few Pictures. 

Two days after my return to Mexico I found 
Huerta, October 10, 1913, making his second coup 
d'etat and quite in the "grande maniere." He had 
the Chamber of Deputies surrounded whilst the 
"Honorevoles" were in session, conspiring against 
their Constitution. He simply had them arrested in 
the corridors, when, having got wind that something 
was wrong, they were stampeding from the Chamber. 

He got a bag of 110, among them were men like 
Vera Estanol and General Meixuero, and promptly 
lodged them in the already rather overcrowded 
Penetenciaria. The American Charge was out until 
two o'clock in the morning in company with the 
Spanish Minister, trying to obtain their release. 
After a long wait at the Foreign Office, they went 
to the Penetenciaria, where they were shown a list 
of 84, the remaining 26 being unaccounted for. 

After the imprisonment of the Deputies, there was 
a constant stream of their mothers, wives, daughters, 
sisters, probably even "amies" flowing in and out of 
the Embassy. These delegations of women are a 
touching custom of the country. Such went to 
Queretaro to ask for the life of Maximilian from 
Juarez, such besought Cortes for the Chichimecs. 

206 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 207 

Such again in the twentieth century came to the 
American Embassy to entreat the Charge d'Affaires 
to intercede for their captive men. They are mostly 
black-robed, and they weep, some loudly, some 
quietly, and they rarely get what they ask. 

Now a word here as to the species not only un- 
classified, but even unknown to the majority of the 
inhabitants of the United States, the "coup d'etat." 
Of its organic functions and economic uses they know 
no more than they do of the one-time functions and 
uses of some fossil of the Tertiary period. Yet it is 
as frequently found in Latin America as the jaguar, 
the boa-constrictor, the iguana or the llama, about 
which every one studied at school. Those who 
have heard of the coup d'etat mostly consider it some- 
thing wicked, even shameful, involving practices in 
which no nice nation or individual would indulge. 
It has been employed, however, and with success 
throughout the ages and its workings have often 
proved to be beneficial rather than otherwise. Some- 
times it is the only practical method by which order 
can come out of destructively conflicting opinions and 
passions. In the United States they know about that 
quite respectable process, "the cutting of the Gordian 
knot'' ; it is done every day in families and in politics 
and in business, but the coup d'etat to which it is own 
brother — oh, no! It is, further, a phenomenon, that 
like all phenomena, has its preordained and natu- 
rally fostering spheres. It is found in Latin States 
rather than in Anglo-Saxon communities, though 
history rates CromT^ell among great men. However 
that may be, Huerta had the extraordinaiy ill-luck 
to do something that in a thick, though undetev- 



208 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

minate way, the great majority of Americans, fol- 
lowing tlieir erudite ruler, tliouglit was wicked. 
They did not like the process, though they did not 
really know what they had against it. Hence many 
tears. One brilliant Latin-American writer even 
goes so far as to call the coup d'etat "a hygienic 
measure against the demagogic rabble when it has 
seized the powers of government, keeping the popu- 
lation terrified by its excesses or propensity to com- 
mit excesses." He further says that "it is a weapon 
against dreamers and deluded reformers, who as soon 
as they gather political strength set out to govern 
an absolutely imaginary population ; against fanatics 
who show themselves more arbitrary, more preda- 
tory, more cruel than the demagogues themselves." 

As I write these words more nations than I can 
count on my fingers, after the extraordinary chaos 
resulting from the casual theories of the Peace Con- 
ference applied to a world that never existed, are 
praying for the strong man. And when he appears 
he will appear riding on some breed of coup d'etat 
rather than on a Constitution, and he will take small 
note of the prolonged twitterings of the Peace Con- 
ference, nor even of the agreeable and once-safe 
platitudes of international law — if his army be big 
enough. We are as sick of mediocrities as the Lady 
of Shalott of shadows. 

A virtuous friend who loves the word "Constitu- 
tion" almost as much as the Mexicans, says I am 
quite wrong, and he would still make the world safe 
for democracy, — ^by other means than machine guns. 

Virtuous friend: No one denies the appearance 
and possible utility of the coup d'etat from time to 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 209 

time in history, but the murderous methods attend- 
ant on it will make it forever objectionable. 

I, with the sketch of a smile on my face: 

"You overlook the fact that the man making the 
coup d'etat is almost invariably in a hurry and has 
little time and less chance to choose his methods." 

Now a word as to the accompanying circumstances 
of Huerta's accession to power, and his quite involved 
character. He was an extraordinary mixture of en- 
thusiasm and cold-bloodedness, of generosity and 
cruelty, of cleverness and ineptitude, of daring and 
w^eakness, all contrasts acted and interacted behind 
the dusky curtain of his Indian soul. But in those 
fatal days of Februarj^, 1913, when so many were 
afraid, hesitating or indifferent, he recognized the 
hour when it came, and had the courage to make it 
his. Though he doubtless desired power for himself 
alone in the beginning, he came to have in the end 
a devouring and obsessing ambition to justify his 
seizure of the power by the pacification and attendant 
prosperity of his country. 

It is not my intention to rehearse the historically 
threadbare events of the "Tragic Ten Days." A few 
pictures will suffice to set in relief the psychology of 
Huerta during that period. 

Late in the afternoon of the 9th of February, Mr. 
de la Barra went to the Palace, to see fiuerta, who 
had just been made military commander of the city. 
The Plaza as he passed through it was a horrid sight, 
slippery with blood, encumbered with debris, though 
the dead, several hundred, had mostly been removed. 
He found Huerta sitting in one of the big rooms, a 
large bottle of brandy on a near table, and in his 



210 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

hand a telegram from Madero from Cuernavaca, 
stating that he had both men and arms and was re- 
turning immediately to Mexico City. He had found 
there General Felipe Angeles with artillery. Huerta 
was pale, but his face wore an expression of tran- 
quillity rather disconcerting to Mr. de la Barra, who 
was himself dreadfully upset by the condition of the 
Plaza through which he had just passed. He had 
expected some answering signs of agitation in the 
Commander-in-Chief. Not so. 

Doubtless this was the moment when Huerta's in- 
stincts, as sure as those of the hound on the scent, 
indicated to him the path that led to the supreme 
power. He found himself suddenly military com- 
mander, and in the classic Mexican position to over- 
throw his civilian chief. He proceeded along normal 
historical lines. To the daring alv/ays needed in such 
situations, he was able to add the patience needed 
in this particular situation. That Huerta's desire 
for the supreme power was then in process of birth, 
no one can doubt. And in revolutions the only thing 
a man can be sure of is what he is doing himself. 

What must have been the thoughts of that Indian, 
sitting in the National Palace, in control of the army, 
suddenly confronted by the nearly empty presidential 
chair placed across his path, and he the man nearest 
to it! If he moved not a moment too soon, nor a 
moment too late, it was his. It was equally there for 
Feliz Diaz to take, but he let, once again, his hour 
pass. What would have been Mexico's history had 
he answered the call of destiny who shall say? He 
is a type of man that would have been more 
simpatico to the pale scholar of the White House, 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 211 

and though Madero would have been murdered in 
any case, we must not forget that Mexico's history 
for more than seven years is quite simply the result 
of the temperamental and unfettered dislike of one 
man for another. 

Huerta's plans were most simple, and later appar- 
ent to eveiybody ; in his methods of carrying them 
out there was the secrecy natural to the Indian, com- 
bined with the equallj^ natural indirectness of Latin- 
American procedure. It has been said of him that 
he alwa^^s laid his plans in a rigidly straight line, 
while the ways and means to his ends showed a series 
of bold curves. This may be said of any clever policy. 
He pursued these methods when bent on taking the 
shortest path to the great result — "pacification" — of 
which^ he was persuaded that he was the most capable 
instrument. That he made a series of cun^es, that he 
even "looped the loop" in proceeding to this end can- 
not be denied. Towards Washington he attempted 
the classic masterly inactivity. 

He knew that Madero, hopelessly amateurish, was 
a dead failure as President; that a revolution to be 
justified must replace a poor thing by a better one. 
He was convinced he was the man to do it. All this 
time he was in daily, hourly consultation with 
Madero, who, with his customary lack of intuition, 
had placed him in charge of the military defense of 
the government. Any man who has the army behind 
him can ciystallize himself into power at the solvent 
moment in Latin- America. In control of the army he 
doubtless went on to survey other forces which if he 
could not align with him, would be arrayed against 
him. These were the Feliz Diaz elements, the con- 



212 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

servative elements represented by de la Barra's pres- 
tige both at home and abroad, and the Diplomatic 
Corps. 

The days from the 9th of February to the 18th 
were strange, determining days for Huerta, whose 
real genius lay in being able to control his ambitions, 
since the day on which he realized that it depended 
upon his sagacity, and above all on his patience, to 
become President of Mexico. On February 17th an 
arrangement was arrived at by Huerta and the Diaz- 
Mondragon contingent. It involved, unintentionally 
but fatalistically, the lives of the President, the Vice- 
President, and Gustavo Madero. Huerta judged the 
abilities of these men accurately ; he neither loved nor 
hated them, especially Madero, of whose govern- 
mental qualities, however, he had the poorest opinion. 
Pino Suarez did not exist for him. It is said that he 
even rather admired Gustavo, who had what the 
French call "de la branche." He was astute enough 
to see that Madero dead by assassination presented 
also a grave menace to himself. The deaths of the 
others would cause little stir and be considered but 
as inevitable, normal incidents in a change of power. 

It is recorded at the meeting of February 17th, 
while the majority were clamoring for the disappear- 
ance of Madero, his clairvoyant Indian brain saw 
that Madero's ghost would be more difficult to lay 
than any conspiracies of the living man, and he quite 
frankly stated that he preferred to take the latter 
risk rather than to incur the enmity and resentment 
his execution would incur in Mexico, and the burden 
of very probable foreign disapproval. What he least 
desired for the furtherance of his own ends was, 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 213 

however, to happen, in the obscure involutions of the 
Madero tragedy. No man escapes the results of his 
actions, nor of his passivity. Huerta, knowing his 
Mexico, that land of "no le hace," should have seen 
to it himself that not a hair of Madero's head was 
touched. Instead, a fatal negligence like to a heavy 
narcotic sleep attended this pivotal moment. . . . 

On awaking his attention was drawn to certain 
accessories of the situation. He was then immensely 
interested in the formation of his cabinet, and im- 
mensely proud of the solid elements composing it. 
These were Francisco L. de la Barra, Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, of international distinction ; Manuel 
Mondragon, Minister of War (whom he afterwards 
sent out of Mexico in the playful yet determined 
manner I once recorded) ; Jorge Vera Estanol, 
Minister of Public Instruction, a jurist of note, 
who was among the 110 deputies bagged in the coup 
d'etat of October 10th, and who remained some months 
in prison till his release was procured by the American 
Charge; Alberto Garcia Granados, Minister of the 
Interior, a great Liberal, experienced and truly 
patriotic, afterwards executed by Carranza in his 
76th year ; Toribio Esquivel Obregon, Secretary of the 
Treasury, of the highest technical ability and entire 
probity; Rodolfo Eeyes, Minister of Justice, whose 
father had been killeH on February 9th by a ball 
through his head as he was advancing with his troops 
against the Palace, then held by the Maderistas. 

These men, though personally not enamored of 
Huerta, were men of discernment and experience. 
They recognized certain strong qualifications in him. 



2U INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

The hour was dark and difficult. They naturally 
rallied about the only fixed point in the shifting 
scenery of Mexican politics, — the man in control of 
the army, and whose abilities, furthermore, had been 
proved. These facts were more important than pri- 
yate virtues which, as they had just seen, had been 
inadequate to the keeping of order. Since Mexico 
has been ruled and ruined by successive bandits, 
several tentatively favored and one sustained by the 
United States,. one realizes how sure the instincts of 
these trained men were. Order was the first essen- 
tial. Democracy was a foreign luxury to be indulged 
in when Mexico was safe, and in politics situations 
will always be considered more urgent than theories. 

The elimination of Feliz Diaz was a matter of the 
most elementary sleight of hand. Huerta suggested 
that he be candidate for the Presidency, in the next 
general (very "general") elections, which was a "now 
you see it, and now you don't" arrangement, but 
which seems to have been satisfactory to everybody, 
even to Feliz Diaz, a man of naturally candid and 
generous soul. Mr. Edward I. Bell suggests that 
those same elections were "doubtless set in the 
privacy of Huerta's mind for the first Tuesday after 
the first Monday following the Day of Judgment." 

This conference was held in the ministry of Gober- 
nacion, a huge, white, elaborately stuccoed house in 
the Calle General Prim, which many had vainly 
striven to sell to the United States for an Embassy. 
It is recorded that during the discussion of the best 
way to eliminate Madero, Huerta abruptly quitted 
the room. When he thus left Madero's fate to other 
men's judgment, he also left his own to them, which 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 215 

was his irreparable, tactical error, the first step in 
his ruin. 

Huerta knew practically, instinctively, somewhat 
after the way that Porflrio Diaz, heaven-born dic- 
tator, knew, that the people of Mexico could preserve 
a government, but not a democracy. There a govern- 
ment to live, must be as highly centralized as our 
own has become, and at that special moment with all 
forces centrifugal it could only be preserved in some 
strong hand. His was strong. 

It was not until Diaz' eightieth year that there was 
any dissatisfaction with the strong hand methods, 
beyond the natural desire of the human heart for a 
change, — even for the worse. The "people" will 
always welcome the new man, be he king, president 
or dictator, one of these three they must have. 

As for Mexico she can have but one kind of govern- 
ment, — her own, and it will always bear small re- 
semblance to that above the Rio Grande. Suum 
cuique. 

Patriotic Mexicans will forever prefer, whilst 
awaiting the illusory golden age of the Anglo-Saxon 
promise, a Mexican dictatorship to the devastations 
of a few bandits selected by an American dictator, or 
a foreign invasion. If Mexico be an independent 
state, she has undeniably a right to her own kind of 
rule, and in the end she can do better for herself 
than we can do for her. We have, as it is, only suc- 
ceeded in imposing on her temporarily a quintessent 
but alien form of dictatorship, compounded of our 
ultimata and her own baudits. The Carranza dic- 
tatorship somewhat recalls Anteus touching the 
ground; every time that the Carrancistas gave the 



216 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

American government a slap in the face they got new 
strength. Carranza, to take an example, was recog- 
nized the day after he had expelled the American Fed 
Cross from Mexican territory. Why put himself out 
to please us? It was, quite evidently, unnecessary. 
If it be true that men hate their benefactors more 
than their enemies, Carranza's hatred of the United 
States was fully Justified. 



CHAPTER XIX 

Presidential Messages — The "One-Man" Power — ^The Chiaroscura of 
Latin-American Politics — The Way of Death. 

On the 13th of October President Wilson sent a 
message to the Provisional government, breathing the 
highest morality, entirely disapproving the high- 
handed manner of dissolving Congress. (He cer- 
tainly then had every American senator and every 
American representative to a man behind him, when 
their own sub-species were threatened, though from 
such an apparently safe distance. They were none of 
them prophets.) He further said that any violence 
offered to any deputy would be considered as an 
offense against the United States, and terminated by 
stating in no uncertain terms that he would not rec- 
ognize any President elected after such proceedings. 

Did this change the simple- Huertistian methods? 
Not in the least. The "elections" took place. When 
Huerta read his speech on the 26th of October, "but 
one was missing," and that was the American Charge, 
whose orders were not to assist at this occasion 
which smelt of the Caesarian laurel rather than of the 
more human polling booth. Later on, when the new 
Congress was assembled, Huerta addressed that body 
with complete and engaging frankness, and termi- 
nated by the following words : 

"Judging the situation calmly, I cannot see that 
the constitutional order of things was interfered with 

217 



218 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

through the dissolution of the Chamber, except when 
the executive power began to invade the sphere of 
action of the other powers. Even so, it will always be 
a high and noble duty, or at least a commendable 
attitude, to save a nation at the cost of all principles. 
What is the use of preserving, at the cost of the 
nation's life, rigid and inert theories whose right and 
usefulness will always remain subject to discussion. 
The ultimate truth is to be found in Bonaparte's 
maxim: 'In saving the country one does not violate 
any law.' " 

No statesman will contend that Huerta was wrong 
in considering that weakness in the Executive, when 
he has full power, is the greatest calamity of a nation, 
or that any constitution has remained fixed. Rather 
it is like everything else, subject to time, circum- 
stance and men. 

It was on the 3rd of December that, in a daze, I 
read President Wilson's message to Congress of the 
day before. "Little by little Huerta has been care- 
fully isolated. By a little every day his power and 
prestige are crumbling, and the collapse is not far 
away. We shall not, I believe, be obliged to alter our 
policy of watchful waiting." The astonishing thing 
is, not that an autocrat should have decreed such a 
thing, but that a people in our advanced stage of 
political development should have permitted it. Any 
political man takes any power he can, and appetite 
comes with eating. Republics are particularly ex- 
posed to the one-man danger, where public feeling 
is entirely unexpectant of it and unprepared. I say 
public feeling, not public opinion, because this latter 
is but a phrase, and appraisements of men and situa- 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 219 

tiona are the result of no mental operation of the 
masses, but of an etat d'dmc, a state of soul ; the ideas, 
the mental operations are supplied as always, in even 
the most communistic states, by the few. In the 
Russia of 1920 Lenine and his nearest disciples pro- 
duce the ideas, and the "dictatorship of the prole- 
tariat'' resembles all other dictatorships, minus cer- 
tain accessories that, since centuries, men have 
classed as desirable. It is grimy and depressing 
when the other is cultured, and sometimes gay ; it is 
irresponsible where the other must make good in 
order to persist. In fact its outward aspect is highly 
unattractive. For myself I prefer a dictator in gold 
braid and lace, riding on a mettlesome steed, pranc- 
ing to a palace full of works of art, announced by the 
blare of trumpets, to a man dressed for the moment 
in a blouse (while awaiting his uniform) who is 
strongly guarded by other bloused and camouflaged 
aspirants, as he slips into a large building no longer 
called a palace, from w^hich the mob has previously 
removed the works of art by theft or destruction. 

One man like unto other men, who is yet raised 
above them by his own qualities, or still more mys- 
teriously and awesomely by Destiny, will forever stir 
the naturally torpid public imagination, and com- 
mand the loyalty of a people in a greater degree than 
can any conglomeration of individuals forming those 
necessary but unmagnetic bodies called congresses or 
cabinets. And when men no longer feel the call to 
hero-worship, to exalt and revere something like unto 
themselves, yet seemingly more than themselves, they 
will be indeed as the beasts of the field. 



220 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

It is because of all this that the nation we have 
been wont to consider the most politically free, could 
see its chief magistrate deliberately setting out to 
destroy the chief magistrate of a weak nation, though 
his destruction included that of its constitutional 
government, without a restraining word. Even in 
later contemporaneous history, which is black 
enough, there is nothing to equal it (except the blind 
destructions of the Peace Conference). It was com- 
mitted personally and in the name of peace. An 
indiscriminating public, under the one-man domina- 
tion, made little or no outcry. That they were igno- 
rant is the explanation, not the excuse. No one is 
supposed to be ignorant of the Law. Yet that which 
destroyed resembled, apart from its phraseology, that 
which was destroyed. The very demand, the very 
insistence of the President, in the autumn of 1918, 
that the electors elect along certain lines, was, with 
the difference of latitude alone, the Latin-American 
manner, recalling unopened bales of votes, from 
voters "selected" or "induced." I began, as it were, 
to smell strangely familiar smells, as of something 
boiling over. Startled, but rendered attentive, I 
found it was the President of the United States over- 
flowing the Constitution, as he "earnestly begged that 
the people return a Democratic majority to both the 
Senate and the House of Representatives." I saw 
how scarcely any form of government resists the one- 
man impulse when it is in full momentum, and one 
man, with the manie des grandeurs, to whose strength 
fortuitously are added the power, wealth and num- 
bers of a great nation, can destroy, by the very mo- 
mentum of his power acting on events, anything that 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 221 

is written on paper, even if it be the Constitution of 
the United States. 

I could not help smiling as I said to myself : "It's 
all the same everywhere; the pride of man has no 
limit, except death, nor his folly either." 

In democracies of a monarchical form there are 
restraints, artificial and natural, put on the usurpa- 
tion of rights. The people are alert, forewarned, fore- 
armed. The system provides against even the temp- 
tations of usurpation which are recognized as la- 
tently imminent, and inherent to the heart of almost 
every man attaining supreme power. The few excep- 
tions but prove the rule. In a Republic such as ours 
when they occur they take the people, secure in the 
illusion that it is a government by the people, of the 
people, for the people, completely unawares. 

When the message of December 2, 1913, was 
read, there were but few, vested with a semblance of 
power, who cried out, "Pause a moment ! This policy 
may mean the collapse of Mexico. Do we wish to 
ruin the Mexican State, with not so much as a glance 
at her history, her racial and climatic conditions, 
which latter, though they enter so largely into the 
questions confronting us, we can by no possible de- 
cree or governmental alchemy change?" Her history, 
alas! we did change, and to-day the 85 per cent, in 
company with the remaining 15 per cent, are walking 
barefoot over the broken glass of her fragile consti- 
tution, not meant to be handled by unskilled 
foreigners. 

It was the one-man power that unconsciously we 
bowed before. It always happens so in history, no 
matter with what names we cover it. For evil or 



222 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

for good, individuals make their nation's history. 
To-day the so-called communistic governments are 
not only dominated by one man, they exist or cease 
to exist, as that one man exists or ceases to exist. 
The hero of the hour will be forever worshiped, and 
over whatever he decrees the people will fling the 
glamour of their own w^orship. The knowledge that 
his power, as in our system, comes from no more holy 
source than the voting booths, around which there 
is little mystery and less virtue, as any ward poli- 
tician in any town, big or little, can tell the searcher 
after truth, is no deterrent. 

And in Republics there is another phenomenon to 
be observed. I say Republics, because the fl.uctuating 
and generally unimaginative will of the people is 
more apparent and often more disastrous to liberty 
of thought and action, than under systems where 
a few skilled men avowedly control the output of 
ideas. It is this: a recognition of the unavoidable 
effects of certain causes, implicates the recognizer in 
the effects; if these be unpleasant, he becomes 
unpopular. Public opinion has never welcomed 
prophets except by a preliminary shower of stones, 
— whatever it may do later. 

In the United States a man who has discovered a 
fact is not distinguishable from a man who has be- 
gotten one. If he is not the father of the baby he finds 
on the doorstep, he is apt to be saddled with it. To 
go further, to indicate that a thing may happen is 
equivalent, in the imperfectly formed discriminatory 
powers of the public, to desiring it to happen, and 
from thence to endeavoring to bring it about. 

If in the United States, where we live under the 



VICTORIANO HUERTA £23 

greatest constitution ever formed from the minds of 
men, comparable only to what Minerva produced 
full-fledged from her bra^n, operating with the most 
wonderful harmony till lately when thrown out of 
gear by the appearance of personalism with all its 
accessories, public opinion (blessed by all the news 
fit or unfit to print and everybody able to read) is un- 
discriminating, why ask of the 85 analphabetic per 
cent, of an Indian Republic that they suddenly, over 
night, distinguish cause from effect, liberty from 
Liberators, friends from foes? We are confronted 
by the fact in our own country that in proportion as 
we extend political liberty we have less personal 
liberty, the system tends to paternalism, so decried. 
In a state like Mexico the inverse is true. There men 
still go to heaven or to hell in their own way and 
political liberty is non-existent. Following on our 
assumption concerning conditions which Mr. Dooley 
describes as "slightly but different from Matsachoo- 
setts," in Mexico the result has been that the lettered 
class, necessarily the upper class and necessarily in 
the minority in an Indian State, find themselves in 
the strange political role of scapegoat for the mis- 
fortunes of Mexico. Yet through knowledge, not 
ignorance, came her glory and her might. 

Any one contemplating governments sanely will, 
while awaiting the uncertain evolution of the sub- 
merged 85 per cent, choose to be governed by those 
who read and write rather than those who do not. 
And while we are about it, what had the Indian to 
fit him to become, according to the Wilsonian theory, 
suddenly, en bloc, the ruler of his country's destinies? 
Evolution is slow and Mexico's four hundred years' 



224 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

act on the historical stage is as a moment compared 
to the time taken to produce the elements that com- 
pose the United States, and to whose pattern and 
image the Indian was suddenly commanded to fit 
himself. 

Here and there chosen people leaven the world, as 
did the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, to take some of 
the oldest. They appear in history, contribute to the 
world's riches, moral, intellectual and material ; from 
them after a thousand, two thousand years, we find 
ourselves assimilating all that we are able of their 
greatness according to our national idiosyncrasies, 
and, adding our own qualities, embodying another and 
particular form of greatness. Mexico in an anti-his- 
toric, anti-philosophic, anti-common-sense way was 
supposed to go suddenly from the depths of its 85 
per cent to the heights of its 15 per cent. There was 
a madness in the asking that could only make for 
disaster. Even in the most elemental matters of pro- 
curing food and raiment, the Indian was to try to live 
under conditions that did not exist. He was supposed 
to transform himself from an Indian atavistically de- 
pending on the rainfall or wind-currents, to one 
using intensive methods which his very geographical 
and meteorological conditions do not permit, unless 
costly irrigation processes are put in force, processes 
that the Indian unaided is no more able to install 
than he is to harness the stars. 

In this sudden pouring of political wisdom down 
Ms throat, which was the only way he could receive 
it in the short time allowed him, practically only over 
night, to fit him, not alone to govern himself, but his 
neighbor, he seems to have choked. The wise man 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 225 

would have paused. Not so the arbiter of Mexico's 
dostinies. 

Somewhat after St. Paul's promises for another 
world, in the twinkling of an eye, by the flourish of a 
signature, by the making of a speech in a foreign 
land, the Indian was expected to be something that he 
was not, and may prove never to have the ethnological 
qualities to become, even though his race persists 
through eons. 

This highminded but indiscreet and temporary ef- 
fort to save him from want (which has been proven 
to be the unavoidable lot of a large majority of human 
beings, even of the superior races at various stages 
in their existence), caused him instead to listen to the 
confused shouts of "revolutionarios" inciting him to 
do he knew not what, turn he know not where, until, 
starving, bewildered, maddened, he died some horrid 
death or inflicted one. 

He might have remained a happy Indian; the 
husband of various wives, the father of many chil- 
dren, planting his beans as fancy or the rainfall 
indicated, kneeling for hours with outstretched arms 
in some still, dim, pink, lovely church before a candle- 
lit altar, worshiping a doubtless somewhat distorted 
image of the white man's God, or reeling from some 
^'Souvenir of the Future" or some "Temple of Venus" 
in the guise of a pulque shop ; his days, in any case, 
spent under a matchless and consoling sun, his nights 
under near and brilliant stars. 

On a return from Mexico I passed through "the 
dull, red hideousness of Georgia," and when I saw 
those treeless factory towns, built on that red grass- 
less soil, often without a church spire, and never a 



226 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

child above a certain age x>laying before the doors, 
I did not think so badly of one-time Mexican misery. 
If pressed I might even have chosen it to that of my 
native land. 

Mr. Wilson unfortunately, during the period when 
he was interested in the subject, had in his mind a 
purely mythical Mexico which he endeavored to reg- 
ulate by subjective sentiments, mostly condemna- 
tory. 

Of the real ethical, economical, social, historical 
Mexico he had as little idea as astronomers of the 
real ethical, economical, social and historical Mars. 
The vague theories advanced by scientists concerning 
the supposed needs of the Martian inhabitants would 
doubtless, if we could impose them, be as disastrous 
as Mr. Wilson's theories concerning Mexico, colored 
further by a virtuous abhorrence for the very 
depraved personality of the last constitutional Presi- 
dent of that unhappy land. Thus to Huerta's other 
difficulties was added a supremely powerful exter- 
nal enemy into whose hands a mighty people with the 
unquestioning generosity that distinguishes them 
where they have given their confidence, placed a 
blank check drawable against their almost incal- 
culable wealth and power. In the face of this, 
Huerta's plan, and he showed a strange acumen, was 
to count on the assistance of time, which carries 
away alike good and evil. It was his only hope and 
hence his endless prevarications, sometimes bold, 
sometimes puerile, Huerta knew his enemy was 
mortal ; he had seen so many men despised or dead, 
that he was keenly aware of the transitoriness both 
of glory and of physical life. Also, any man, he 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 227 

knew, who lives long enough will experience the in- 
constance of fortune. The only thing left him was a 
vague hope in chance, which alone could rid him of 
his chief enemy. 

Admittedly Huerta obeyed the dictates of his 
interest, which doubtless he confounded with those of 
the State. The old Indian, with the sameness of 
human nature come to power in difficult times, acted 
according to Machiavelli, that illustrious teacher of 
peoples as well as princes. He took liis situation as 
it was, not as it should have been. The interior task 
was colossal. Like all men come to power by violence, 
he not only had to take into account the ambitions 
of those supporting him, but to endeavor to restrain 
the cruelties and excesses of his army. He had 
further more to satisfy this last, while at the same 
time he protected the civil population. One of the 
natural functions of armies is pillage, loot and 
rapine. He might, perhaps, and history will give him 
the benefit of the doubt, have fulfilled his task, for 
the order-loving elements showed a tendency to 
group themselves about him, as the only person rep- 
resenting Constitutional government, and with which 
they were inevitably destined to stand or to fall. 

Tliat Huerta was gifted as well as wicked and 
unfortunate no one will deny. He had something of 
the lion and much of the fox in his make-up. His 
instincts were Indian, his methods Latin-American, 
• — the only methods, however, that circumstances had 
brought to his notice. An unpleasing combination, 
even a loathly combination, to the virtuous ruler of 
an Anglo-Saxon Republic. From the repugnance, 
even detestation, that such a combination awakened, 



228 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

to trying to change its essential qualities, seems to 
have been but a step. Instead, however, of allowing 
these protoplasmic democrats to nourish themselves 
and evolve along their inevitable lines, President 
Wilson's desire was to see 85 per cent of them turned 
into fully developed deserving democrats over night. 
This being out of Nature's way, history testifies that, 
in the pressure, these inorganic bits were simply 
squashed out of any semblance to anything. 

But the destinies of Mexico have been, for the last 
seven years and more, determined by men who, 
though they are learned in many matters, have been 
totally ignorant of things Mexican, and have quite 
frankly wished to remain ignorant. The other 
arbiters of her destiny are kaleidoscopic bandit 
chiefs appearing for a brief time to disappear by 
violent deaths, whose adherents and themselves, 
forming the famous one-half per cent of one per cent 
of the population exact, in addition lo the inevitable 
pound of flesh, all the worldly possessions of the 
remaining Mexicans. These we insist on holding in 
power, while we keep enlightened, educated Mexicans 
in exile, the kind of men who correspondingly wield 
power in the United States. Sometimes they are rich, 
sometimes they are poor, after the way of good citi- 
zens in any country, and the sentimental "democracy" 
we have installed and sustained can only be enjoyed 
by them out of their country. 

Now the philosophic history of those prismatic, 
unstable, active manifestations, Latin-American 
political systems, is one of the most interesting gov- 
ernmental phenomena the world has to show, and 
Mexico is not to be understood without some study 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 229 

of it. It abounds in what may be called rather 
indeterminately "liuman nature," which gushes out 
from a few elemental sources quite unmodified by the 
conventions that screen its governmental uses in 
other countries, which, however, if studied, would 
be found to somewhat resemble it. The personal 
equation is visibly and constantly at work on the 
national clay, which takes a form and shape from it, 
easily transformable and transmutable into still 
something else. There is nothing stereotyped about 
it, except in so far as its manifestations are generally 
true to type, and resemble the colors of the spectrum 
in their variety and the acts of God in their 
unexpectedness. 

Of two determining Latin-American political attri- 
butes, I would like to say a word. Envy and Person- 
alism. The first is inherent, omnipresent. Indeed, one 
whose talents and situation enable him to know his 
country well, has even said: — "To a Latin- American 
of the middle-class the greatest offense that can be 
offered him — greater than taking his wife from him, 
violating his daughter, or disfiguring his face with 
sulphuric acid — is to have one of his friends amass a 
fortune. This is not to be endured. The heart of one 
to whom this affront has been offered is consumed by 
a white-heat envy, molten lead coursing through his 
veins instead of blood. 

"If the wealth has been acquired by means of 
defrauding the public, which in our decadent social 
system constitutes no stigma, then envy is capable of 
transforming the injured one from a lamb into a lion, 
from a weakling into an athlete, from an arrant 
coward into a legendary hero, from a self-seeking 



230 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

egotist into a sublime patriot, so long as it gives him 
an opportunity to take vengeance on his former 
friend, and at the same time to defraud his country 
for his own benefit, even to the point of surpassing 
the rapacity of the first offender." 

Accompanying this besetting, omnipresent sin of 
envy is the equally active and ubiquitous Per- 
sonalism. Each public man is willing to sustain to 
the death his theory of government. In the case of 
a man of genius like Don Porfirio this is an im- 
mense advantage; in the usual run, it produces dis- 
order of the most horrid and destructive kind. 

Personalism having unfortunately made its appear- 
ance in politics in the United States during the past 
seven years, there are those perhaps at last engaged 
in the study of it at near quarters, and it will be 
most useful in future appraisements of the Mexican 
situation. It is not in our tradition, nor in our 
natural habit, to destroy a man because of the 
opinions he holds, nor, if he happens to differ, decree 
war to the knife, as in Latin-American States. Also 
in questions of national moment, until the Peace Con- 
ference, which, in parenthesis, makes the disdained 
Congress of Vienna appear as a gathering of angels, 
philosophers and altruists, both our political parties 
were supposed to have equal interests and equal 
rights, as they would inevitably and automatically be 
called on to make equal sacrifices and bear equal 
responsibilities. 

Even the most casual survey of Latin-American 
politics, seen in their most accentuated form in 
Mexico, reveals them as having something deeply, 
fatally and entirely personal about them. Whatever 



VICTOKIANO HUERTA 231 

principal is in question is not separable from the 
man holding it. Politics are inevitably irresponsible 
under these conditions, and completely destructive 
to the individual, whose end is almost invariably 
sudden death or exile. The very few exceptions but 
prove the rule. The great Juarez did die in his bed, 
but only just in time not to be caught up in the 
uncertainties, or rather certainties, of the well- 
advanced revolt of General Gonsalez Ortega. 

Under such conditions which present themselves 
with the inevitability of natural phenomena, the 
decree "to the end that bloodshed cease in Mexico" 
might as well have been a decree that there be a 
uniform rainfall there, and despite the virility and 
righteousness of these words, who would pretend that 
they could have an effect on the seasons? 

Compared, let us say, with the impersonal methods 
of English politics, where political opponents will 
spend week-ends together for 20 years, and play golf 
in harmony for 40, with scarcely a destructive 
thought (as regards the life and property, at least, 
of the opponent), the bitter personalism of Latin- 
American politics is incomprehensible. Yet it is a 
fact to be reckoned with in government in those 
countries, that disagreement in politics almost auto- 
matically becomes a matter of burning, personal hate. 
And further in a country whose sons if they do not 
know how to live, do know how to die, having not only 
small regard for each other's lives, but for their own, 
each and every political conception is sustained at the 
fullest risk to the individual. 

In latitudes and longitudes where there is an 
undue value put on life, this essential idiosyncrasy 



232 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

is not taken into account. Such nations, however, 
with all their weaknesses have a certain scorn 
for those, like ourselves, over-loving of life. For all 
must die, though we Anglo-Saxons who can make 
ourselves believe almost anything that is not so, get, 
for the most part, no further than the general con- 
clusion that though other men will and do die, one's 
self may possibly escape. In this I except the Celt; 
he dies for the "idea" or the faith, generously, 
eagerly, in anticipation and in fact. 

One of the things that strikes most deeply him who 
contemplates with a free eye things Mexican, is the 
way of death. There is almost invariably a quiet 
dignity about it. Few public men die in their beds. 
Rather swiftly, arbitrarily from some position in 
which their acts and destiny have placed them do they 
"endure their going hence." A man like Don Alberto 
Garcia Granados (to speak of some one I knew), at 
the age of 75, was taken by Carrancista soldiery to the 
Escuela de Tir and there shot. He was in bed with 
a mortal illness when seized. Salt injections were 
given him, and he had further to be bound to a 
post before the firing squad could get in their work. 
He died in supreme composure of soul. The death of 
such a man and that of the most untutored Indian is 
outwardly the same. I remember once seeing a 
peon pass down the street between two soldiers, with 
fingers on their gun-triggers. Not tall, he yet held 
himself loftily, and the expression of his face was 
one of complete tranquillity. Behind him weeping, 
but not very loudly, was his woman. A baby was 
bound to her heart by a blue reboso and a round- 
eyed little girl too small to be frightened, was 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 233 

running by her side, clutching with one hand a bit 
of her mother's skirt. In her other was an orange, 
very probably given her by one of the guards. The 
pace of the group was quick. The morning was 
dazzling, the beauty of the earth even unto tears. In 
another hour that man walking under the blue dome 
would have closed his eyes on it. And it was not 
even an idea that gave him his courage, it was some- 
thing within himself, a grouping of qualities, a lack 
of them some will cry, that made him, poor Indian, 
high and free in face of it. 

I who was not to die was more troubled at the 
sight of it, than he who was to endure it. 



CHAPTER XX 

The Diplomatic Corps in Mexico City at the Time of Huerta's Ac- 
cession to Power. 

A glance at the Diplomatic Corps at the time of 
Madero's assassination, and the general attitude of 
the countries represented and advised concerning 
the recognition of the Huerta de facto government, 
will throw into high relief the extreme personalism 
of our non-recognition. We furthermore stood to gain 
what the other nations did by recognition, our only 
difference being that we were in a geographical and 
political position to ruin Mexico by non-recognition. 

During many months the diplomatic corps had been 
formulating, — to themselves, — of course, we only got 
echoes of it, being like the proverbial husband "the 
last to know," — their ideas of what we really were 
about. 

The German minister in the politest and most 
veiled of language, intimated to me in a somewhat 
protracted conversation that our policy was evidently 
to weaken the Mexicans by non-recognition, and when 
they were sufficiently reduced come into Mexico 
cheaply, thus avoiding armed intervention, which 
would be much better for the Mexicans though it 
would be more expensive for us. Indeed, all the 
colleagues veiled behind unassailably discreet and 
courteous remarks to our face, what they doubtless 
called by other names behind our backs. 

234 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 235 

The diplomatic corps was peculiarly well composed 
at the time of Madero's assassination, the men rep- 
resenting the great nations having all, with the 
exception of the German and Belgian ministers, long 
La tin- American experience, and were hence quite 
familiar with the phenomena that presented itself. 
These two gentlemen were both, however, intuitive 
and trained. 

Mr. Stronge, the British Minister, had come to 
Mexico City from Bogota. Though an Irishman, he 
was in his soul a peacemaker, a reconciler of factions, 
a man who in his heart deplored violence. The 
drama of the Tragic Ten Days was played out at his 
very door, whence he could see its every involution, 
as the actors appeared and disappeared from the 
stage, which happened to be set in part in an open 
space, furnished with machine guns and cannon, in 
front of the Legation. The minister himself often 
extended the hospitality of his cellar to various stars 
in the drama, who, if they had been able to make 
their exits, would come to him begging asylum. It 
was here, protected by the Lion and the Unicorn, 
that at nine o'clock on the morning of the 18th of 
February Robles Gil found Mr. de la Barra, to tell 
him that he had been designated Minister for Foreign 
Affairs in the Huerta cabinet. 

Though so excellently placed to see it as it really 
was, not as people who had not seen it thought it 
ought to be, Mr. Stronge did not counsel his govern- 
ment against recognition. He quite simply realized, 
as did the other diplomats, that Madero had but paid 
the normal though high price of political failure in 
Mexico. Recognition was given, not of course, at the 



236 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

moment, but with that decent regard for "les con- 
venances" which stamps British diplomacy with such 
dignity, when the affair was literally cold in its grave, 
and the protocolic amount of grass and weeds had 
grown above it, — nicely watered with oil. 

Sir Lionel Garden,^ who succeeded Mr. Stronge, 
had had thirty years' experience of Latin-America, 
and was peculiarly able to give his country accurate 
information. He was not a man to jump to extremes, 
nor was he one to espouse a cause hastily, in fact, 
he was somewhat unelastic. Due consideration of 
facts, and moderation, after the most conscientious 
scrutiny of them, would mark any decision he made 
or advised. He had, some 16 years before, been Con- 
sul-General to Mexico and was but lately come from 
Guatemala, where he had been Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary. There was nothing he saw in the situation on 
his arrival in Mexico City, the 10th of October, 1913, 
to cause him to cable his government advising a 

^ It was in 18S2 during the Presidency of Gonzales that Lionel 
Garden first went to Mexico. He was at the time Viee-Consul to 
Havana. In pursuance of an idea that it would be an excellent 
thing both for England and Mexico to renew diplomatic relations, he 
asked permission of the Foreign Office to go to Mexico to write 
a commercial report on the condition of the country. He was given 
leave from Havana for three months. His report was such that a 
special envoy was shortly after appointed to go to Mexico, and Don 
Ignacio Mariseal went to London. Subsequently Mr, Garden was 
made Gonsul to Mexico Gity, occupying that post for nearly seven- 
teen years. There being many questions to settle during that period, 
he was also appointed Commissioner for the settlement of the British 
Claims. He learnt much about the early revolutions and the pre- 
vailing conditions from General Berriozbal, who was the Mexican 
Commissioner. He was witness to the reconstruction of the country 
under Porfirio Diaz, He was also to be witness of its destruction 
under Garranza. Who better than he could have advised his govern- 
ment? He saw from the beginning, with prophecy inspired by 
experience, the disastrousness of our Mexican policy. Mr. Wilson, 
however, was even then, "though less than God, somewhat more 
than mahomet, " and Sir Lionel's prophecy as ewU as his experience 
were fruitless. He died in London in the spring of 1915, 



VICTORIANO HUEETA 237 

delay in presenting his letters of credence. Neither 
did his very able secretary, Hohler, who had already 
spent several enlightening and educative years in 
Mexico, have anything to reveal to him that could 
act as a sudden deterrent. Consequently, in con- 
formity with his instructions, he presented his creden- 
tials the day after his arrival. 

Huerta amid all his sorrows was destined here 
and there to know brief moments of triumph. This 
was one of them. Looking appalled and conscience- 
stricken on the whole disastrous period, I do not 
grudge it to him. 

The presentation by the British envoy of his letters 
on October iTth, the morning after the coup d'etat 
in the Chamber of Deputies, went to Huerta's head. 
It opened out to him the splendid, the intoxi- 
cating vista of possible recognition by the United 
States, without which he knew that no government 
in Mexico can stand. It was his obsession, the passion 
of his heart, the dream of his nights, the motive force 
of his days. Incidentally it was, for the United 
States, the heaven-sent moment' to present accounts. 
Chamizal, Magdalena Bay, the Rio Colorado, could 
have been literally washed off the slate, the claims 
against the Mexican government incurred during the 
revolution, business disputes pending for years, good 
or bad, vital or trivial, could have been regulated 
to our satisfaction, and without disaster to Mexico. 
It might have been a day of judgment with the 
difference that the judged, both goats and sheep, with 
their affairs pleasantly regulated, could begin to live 
again on the new basis. Did we take advantage of 
this unique occasion? Not for a moment. We simply 



238 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

proceeded in the most awkward way of the country 
yokel, slinging the flail for the first time, and getting 
at everything except the chaff in the radius of the 
flaU, to destroy the man who was mad to please us, 
to strangle a creditor who was willing and even 
anxious to pay. It is the most stupid act our history 
records, defying any comparison. And they call us 
a nation of hard-headed business men ! 

It was the spell of the one-man power acting as 
surely above, the Rio Grande as below it. 

To return to the Diplomatic Corps. Mr. Stronge, 
Mr. Hohler and Sir Lionel Garden were all gentle- 
men in the most general and particular sense of the 
word. They had the antipathy to violence and 
villainy natural to their type and kind. Instead, 
however, of being able to deal with the purely sub- 
jective Mexico projected from Washington, they 
found themselves obliged to take her as she was, and 
to decide action on the basis of daily facts, where 
they concerned the life and property of their 
nationals ; also to extend what help decency and good 
sense prompted in related Mexican matters. 

The role was difficult. For Sir Lionel it became 
impossible. Into that beautiful city, where as Consul- 
General he had dwelt for many years during the Por- 
flrian peace, where he had seen the Huerta govern- 
ment, though bound hard and fast by the "watchful 
waiting" policy, keeping order and endeavoring not 
unsuccessfully to proceed with the usual and im- 
mediate affairs of government, he was to see the 
Carranza hordes pour, barefoot, dirty, noisy, 
bullying, looting, violating, destroying. He was 
himself to be ordered by Carranza "to get out of the 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 239 

country in twenty-four hours, or be put out," — only 
a short two days after General Obregon's entity at 
the head of the Constitutional troops. 

Before returning to Mexico in April of 1914, Sir 
Lionel had, while in London, telegraphed to General 
Diaz, then in Paris, asking for an interview. His 
question was: — "^.Quien es Huerta?" — "Who and 
what is Huerta, and what is your estimate of the 
situation?" 

The answer of that reader of men's hearts is on 
the files in Downing Street, It but confirmed the 
British policy of recognition of the Huerta de facto 
government. General and Madame Diaz drove Sir 
Lionel to Versailles, lunched there, and on their 
return a conversation took place in the apartment 
of General Diaz at the Hotel Astoria. General Diaz 
considered Huerta, in spite of his so evident defects, 
the "man of the hour," and doubtless thought that 
he might, if the load of Washington's hate were 
replaced by Washington's indifference, get out of the 
mess. The fourth part Indian in Don Porfirio enabled 
him to understand the total Indian in Huerta. He 
could be counted on to be resourceful, preserving, 
patient. He was gifted to an unusual degree with the 
usual Indian stoicism, and he was proving decidedly 
skillful in fighting Washington's guerrilla methods 
of warfare, doubled with the money blockade and 
unlimited arms and ammunitions for his enemies. 

To his Indian qualities Don Porfirio added the 
imagination of the Latin, which enabled him to com- 
pletely appraise this complex and faulty personality 
in the light of his relations to foreign nations, as well 



240 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

as Ms potentialities where his own was concerned. 
His word will doubtless count with history. 

M. Lefaivre, the French Minister, was a man of 
unusual culture, versed in history, philosophy and 
Belles Lettres. His very agreeable conversation was 
embellished with illustration and apt quotation, and 
after the French manner, he easily gave of his best. 
He had in addition a long Latin-American experi- 
ence, having had various South American posts, and 
from Havana, where he had been Minister, he had 
been appointed to Mexico, which post he had held for 
some five years. He had been raised to the rank of 
Special Ambassador representing France at the Cen- 
tenary, had witnessed the apotheosis of Diaz, had seen 
the gradual darkening of the Mexican landscape dur- 
ing the Madero regime and the loosening of the 
threads of government. Curiously enough he had 
been among those who received the exiled Maker of 
Modern Mexico on his arrival in Paris, when he 
stepped from the train at the Gare Saint Lazare that 
June evening of 1911.^ 

Though in the earliest stage of Huerta's incum- 
bency M. Lefaivre had been besought by Mr. de la 
Barra, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, to endeavor 
to hasten the recognition by France of the de facto 

^Madame Lefaivre gives this picture in a letter: "The night of 
Tuesday we were at the Gare St. Lazare to receive the dethroned 
couple. The President seems much older and changed, but his air 
of serenity and dignity is quite in keeping with his sad role of king 
in exile. Three or four hundred people were on the platform, all 
very much affected and full of the most respectful sympathy. He 
clasped both my hands with effusion. It is said that he is very poor. 
After thirty years of absolute power, he possesses only the most 
modest of fortunes. I sent to their hotel a magnificent bouquet in 
the Mexican colors, my usual economy disappearing in face of this 
drama and this injustice of history. ' ' 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 241 

government, he felt the wisdom of coimseling delay, 
in order to see what elements of power Huerta would 
be able to group about him; above all wliat 
guarantees could be counted on concerning the 
interests of the very large, and at that time very 
prosperous, French colony in Mexico. 

A few days subsequent to the recognition of the 
Huerta de facto government by Great Britain, it 
was also recognized by France. 

To Senor Cologan, the Spanish Minister, the 
situation was trying, not so much in itself, he recog- 
nized it as normal, but because of the excesses com- 
mitted by Villa in particular, and chance bandits in 
general, against the persons and property of his 
nationals. Villa, before he had become "a safe man 
to tie to," had declared that he intended to see to it 
himself that every Spaniard, with the smallest 
amount of hand baggage or none, got out of Mexico. 
When I returned in October, 1913, he had just 
executed nine Iberians in Torreon who had unwisely 
demurred at turning over to him their earthly goods. 
This, however, they were finally obliged to do after 
the preliminary ceremony of digging their own 
graves. 

Senor Cologan was a tall man, no longer young, 
of grave and gentle presence, untiringly devoted to 
duty. He was married to a very handsome Vera 
Cruzana, and had been, all his life, familiar with 
Spanish-America. 

When, worn and discouraged, having witnessed the 
ruin of Mexico, and that of his nationals, Senor 
Cologan asked for his recall, the Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary who succeeded him, Seiior Caro y Szechenyi, 



242 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

had but a sliort tenure of office. He was expelled by 
Carranza in February, 1916. In the billet-doux 
informing him to depart within twenty-four hours 
he was addressed quite simply as "cuidadano Caro" 
("citizen Caro"), which was so resented by the dip- 
lomatic envoys in the Mexican capital as incompat- 
ible with their offlcial dignity, that they recom- 
mended their own recall by their various govern- 
ments. Senor Caro was refused escort to Vera Cruz 
by General Obregon, who left him to arrive or not 
arrive, as accident might determine. Once in Vera 
Cruz the Captain of the U. S. warship Delatoare, 
protected him and his baggage from the "police" and 
saw to his safe transfer to the ship Maria Cristina, 
lying outside the harbor. The days of the Huertistian 
international courtesies were dead along with every- 
thing else. 

Italy was not at the time represented, her affairs 
being in the hands of the British. Austria had a 
Charge d' Affaires. 

The Belgian Minister, M. Paul May, an interesting 
and agreeable figure among the diplomats, was 
naturally very astute, as well as schooled in inter- 
national procedure. He subsequently tried, as did Sir 
Lionel Garden, in the most cautious and courteous 
way to enlighten American public opinion as to the 
screaming, elbowing facts of the situation. They 
succeeded only in jostling the chip on Washington's 
shoulder, receiving in turn, both of them, a shower 
of stones from Washington's fist, in the shape of a 
press campaign against them. 

The Belgian Legation, in the Paseo, was partic- 
ularly exposed during the bombardment of the Tragic 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 243 

Ten Days, and M. May liad known not only anxiety, 
but danger. With his wife and two young children 
he finally took refuge in the German Legation, in the 
less exposed Calle Liverpool, as did also the family 
of M. Joseph Simon, whose house, near the Belgian 
Legation, had received a warning shell through the 
drawing room walls. 

In spite of all that he had seen M. May, recognizing 
how coy is legality in Mexico, and how wary about 
returning when once frightened away, counseled his 
government to follow the other governments in the 
matter of recognition. 

The diplomats, with the exception of von Hintze, 
spoke Spanish admirably, M. May being almost per- 
fectly polyglot, and the affair had to them only the 
usual mystery which they had discovered every Mex- 
ican is apt to fling about his simplest as well as his 
most complex act. 

M. Joseph Simon, at that time Inspector of 
Finances of the Banco Nacional, was an important 
figure in Mexico. Highly gifted, of wide inter- 
national experience, of reputation so unsullied that 
neither enemies nor friends could assail it, he went, 
in the summer following Huerta's accession to power, 
to France to advise a loan for the de facto govern- 
ment. This was first and very naturally with a view 
to protecting the enormous French interests, to be 
safeguarded only if the actual responsible govern- 
ment were safeguarded. 

The loan was arranged on his representation, he 
being in a unique position to know the facts of the 
situation, and loans are notoriously made, where 
possible, according to fact rather than fancy. On his 



2U INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

way back to Mexico in October, he learned, to his 
astonishment, at the first port he touched at, Havana, 
that Avhile he was on the water his government had 
been informed by Washington that any loan made by 
France to the Huerta Government would be con- 
sidered "an unfriendly act." The French government 
very naturally called it off. From that moment 
Huerta's financial fate was sealed, together with that 
of billions of foreign propertj^ in Mexico, it being 
the first definite step of that unhappy country toward 
repudiation of her Foreign Debt. The gi'eat work of 
Diaz and Limantour collapsed completely, when 
France thus renounced as did other European states, 
her own policy towards Mexico to follow that of 
'Vatchful waiting." In due time these same nations, 
when international war indebtednesses are being 
reckoned up (in the necessarily unaltruistic attitude 
that attends final reckonings, where benefits are 
forgot and future favors not visible enough to inspire 
a lively sense of gratitude), will present their large 
Mexican accounts to the United States. 

As to the representatives of the Latin-American 
States to the City of Mexico, they were not at all in 
the dark as to what had happened. Each had but to 
turn any chance page of his own history to find 
enlightening resemblances. Cimmerian darkness pre- 
vailed alone in the north. 

Mr. Heniy Lane Wilson, Ambassador to Mexico 
since 190S, and dean of the Diplomatic Corps, had 
spent seven years as Minister to Chili, and was also 
not surprised by the phenomena that presented itself. 
He had long been a student of Latin-American politi- 
cal histoiw. He also had witnessed the apotheosis of 



VICTOKIANO IIUERTA 245 

the Diaz A dminHf ration, fitting; end to thirty yearH 
of proHperity along non-el ef.-tive lineH. lie knew, 
moreover, how delicaUi waH Mexico'n governmental 
machinery, by the skilful workingH of whieh alone 
her ijeaee waH to be maintained. Ue naturally tried 
to acquaint his government with facts that could be 
gauged only by thowi daily confronted by them in 
their naked aspect, and conversant with their acces- 
sory x>henomena. 

All other Spanish speaking foreigners were in- 
foiTued as to the situation and able to read the xary 
clear writing on tlje wall. The Ambassador had been 
convinced at an early period of the complete incom- 
petence of Madero for goverament. It was demon- 
strated to him daily by first-hand facts, not fancies 
or tlieories. He knew, furthermore, that it was time 
wasted for Mexico. Events have proved him right. 

lie quite aptly desf:ribed the Madero regime as 
active and annoying in small matters, and evasive, 
sluggish and neglectful in big things. He had come 
to consider that the responsibilities of office, and the 
disappointments resulting from the intrigues and 
jealousies all about him had shattered Madero's 
reason. He likened the last months of his incumbency 
to a mild reign of terror, marked by exaggerated 
espionage, a reckless s^juandering of public money, 
imprisonments accompanied by other and more final 
disappearances, and above all by the muzzling of the 
Press, though its freedom had been one of the 
brightest jewels in the Maderista crown. What 
Madero was fitted for really, was the quiet life of a 
country gentleman nursing benevolent ideals in a 
blameless and sheltered existence. 



246 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

When tlie revolutionary machinery after its secular 
manner began to turn again, the Ambassador saw 
its meaning and import. His first idea was to protect 
the life and property of his nationals, which he did 
admirably, seconded during all those days of the 
Decena Tragica by his charming and courageous wife. 
His second was to try by the weight of his authority 
as Ambassador and dean of the Diplomatic Corps, to 
save what was still to be saved for foreign interests 
in Mexico. 

As dean, messages from foreign representatives as 
a body passed through his hands to the Mexican 
authorities, who communicated their answers in like 
manner, the United States Embassy thus becoming 
the natural focus of events. 

The Ambassador proceeded according to the now 
effete theory that our government has primary duties 
relating to the protection of the life and property of 
its own nationals, and secondary duties growing out 
of proximity and our announced policy to afford pro- 
tection to foreigners as well, who, because of that 
policy, cannot use their own means of protection. 

When Huerta became military commander of the 
City of Mexico on the 9th of February, the full light 
thrown on the center of the stage whereon he had 
stepped showed him embodying every characteristic, 
possessing every accessory of the secular "military 
genius," the typic man with the army at his back, 
who inevitably appears at such moments in Mexico. 
He could only act true to type and precedent. 
Whatever was to be saved out of the situation, was 
to be saved by him. This the Ambassador and his 
colleagues realized, and they have, alas, been abun- 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 247 

dantly justified. Doubtless the testimony of the men 
comprising the diplomatic corps at that time will 
be accepted by history (which finally judges men and 
events in relation to their origin and environment) 
rather than the preconceptions of an alien mind, 
working spasmodically, and which in the end detached 
itself from the matter somewhat as a man detaches 
himself from a slightly unpleasant, only half-remem- 
bered dream. Few history-determining facts are as 
clear as the hatred of a President of the United 
States for a President of Mexico. It has been called 
mere pedantry to put the blame for events on any 
one man. This exception proves the rule. Had it 
come about through the implacable force of economic 
destinies, or the equally implacable encroachments 
of the strong, one could view it more calmly, saying 
with Ecclesiastes : 

"All things are hard . . . What is it that hath 
been? The same thing that shall be. What is it that 
hath been done? The same that shall be done." 

Huerta was moreover the choice, free, or imposed 
by circumstances, is a hair-si3litting detail, of the 
best elements of the country, the elements represent- 
ing tradition, learning, experience, statecraft. All 
those things, in fact, that until the incursion into 
civilization of the "Reds" have been considered gov- 
ernmental assets by the wise men of the ages, were 
primarily in Mexico to be denied, cast out, called 
anathema. It sometimes seems to me that first from 
Washington was wafted to Mexico that fatal seed of 
disintegration which the civilized world in horror 
sees grow like the tiny mustard seed into the greatest 
tree, darkening in its deep shade the bright works 



.A 



248 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEJ 

of the ages. If the best elements of Mexico recog- 
nized the Huerta dictatorship, it must be that there 
was some reason for it worthy of consideration. 
They were faced by facts, which bore little or no re- 
semblance to the subsequent theories on which non- 
recognition was based. In looking at it now in the 
light of history, world-history and Mexican history, 
the only mistake committed was one inherent to the 
situation. This was that Madero did not take asylum 
in the American Embassy. And this was due to that 
strange clouding of events, which takes place in 
Mexico as inevitably as atmospheric changes take 
place, after certain pressures. Some mist, atavistic, 
indispellable, intervenes between men and situa- 
tions. This brings about a suspension of mental 
processes; with everything possible and nothing 
accounted probable, nobody ever foresees the inevi- 
table outcome of a situation, though it will be the 
outcome of a hundred analogous situations. Cer- 
tainly the negligence of Huerta himself in those days, 
incidental doubtless to the excitements and preoccu- 
pations of fast-occurring events, was to be fatal to 
him, and in the end to draw him as well as Madero 
into the dark Chamber of Death. That Francisco I. 
Madero would, however, have been assassinated at 
some later date is certain. His violent going hence 
was a natural act of the organic political body, but 
had Huerta delivered him to the American Embassy 
marked, "valuable," "fragile," "to be handled with 
care," and got a receipt for him, he might have de- 
layed his death, and saved himself, perhaps. In- 
stead there was some fatal slipping of the cog. 
It is more than possible that in those repetitive, 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 249 

historical moments, the death of Madero as a solu- 
tion, quite logical, presented itself to Huerta. He 
might even, as better and worse men than he have 
done, in like hours, consummated it himself without 
turning a hair, had a perfectly safe and explicit occa- 
sion offered itself. That he did so, history has failed 
completely to prove, and if all the men who desired 
the death of enemies were hanged, no state, however 
rich or populous, could provide sufficient rope or 
enough hangmen. 

Of Herr von Hintze, in the light of after events, 
I can be permitted to speak more at length than of 
these other gentlemen. His character and subse- 
quent appearance on several world scenes are not 
without interest. 

About him there was an unsolved personal equa- 
tion : was he a cynic, was he a true- type sentimental- 
ist? I never knew. 

There was at times a suggestion of something pas- 
sionately contained in his being, though his usual 
outward aspect was calm, even cold. 

Looking back on his personality in the light of his 
later career I see that the leit-motiv of his 
existence, the root of every thought and act, was 
love of country and of emperor. 

He had been for many years personal and intimate 
friend of the Kaiser as well as the most devoted of 
subjects and servitors. During those seven years in 
St. Petersburg which preceded his appearance in 
Mexico he had been special Naval Attache to the Czar, 
and had kept up, it was rumored, a private corre- 
spondence with his master, even over the heads of 
Ambassadors. 



250 IJSTTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

In Mexico he found himself revolving in a strange 
orbit and the natural splendors of those far heavens 
were not as consoling to him as they were to some of 
us. To use a good old word, fast disappearing, I 
think he was often desperately homesick. 

He was entirely devoted to duty, of great industry, 
hard with his subordinates, very impatient of their 
mistakes and still more of their weaknesses. But 
he asked of none of them something he would not 
have asked of himself. As was inevitable, he had a 
profound contempt for Latin-American methods of 
procedure. They were not even intellectually, 
academically, interesting to him, and he investigated 
them only in so far as was necessary for the further- 
ance of the prosperity of his nationals. 

Though possessing himself so entirely, there were 
moments when something was apparent that had no 
relation to the qualities of hardness and contempt. 
Sudden tears would come into his eyes and a look of 
the solitary bird setting out towards some peak. 
These revelations of personality, infrequent as they 
were, affected one as one would be affected at sud- 
denly throwing back a curtain and looking out on 
an unexpected panorama. He was a Prussian, and 
the Prussians being Orientals, their psychologies are 
generally inaccessible, or else repellent to us. 

I took him for a judge of people, and alas, those 
who read human nature, unless they be essentially 
humble-minded, which he was not, are apt to become 
disdainful. What one sees is so often horrid, or 
useless, which is worse. 

He had much personal dignity, and though not in- 
sensible to the little pleasantries that galvanize the 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 251 

diplomatic body in distant posts, there were few 
made at his expense. Sentiment was also an essen- 
tial part of his make-up ; "la petite fleur bleue" being 
more than a mere botanical specimen in his button- 
hole. 

He had a high-arched nose, a small sensitive-lipped 
mouth, full-socketed blue eyes under arching brows 
in a high forehead, and his face was broad between 
the ears. On the second finger of his right hand he 
always wore a large amethyst ring. Apart from this 
revelatory touch, he dressed in English-looking 
clothes, very carefully put on. He was evidently a 
man of wealth, his father had been in some sort of 
trade, he himself having been ennobled by the Kaiser. 
His numerous dinners over which he presided, often 
curiously and unnecessarily anxious, were of the best, 
with vintage wines and costly imported fruits and 
delicacies. 

The Legation was spacious, comfortable and per- 
fectly hideous. His own things having been water- 
soaked in transit, he had rented an expensive, fur- 
nished house with a large garden in the Calle Liver- 
pool. It belonged to a wealthy German, and the 
great square hall was furnished in hatracks and high 
jardinieres in the form of giant pansies in their own 
natural colors. If he was ever disturbed by the ugli- 
ness of his dwelling, I never heard him say. From 
the railing of the second stoiy of the high square 
hall he had hung some ancient and beautiful rugs, 
the only attempt he made to cover its ugliness. 

Since then he has signed pages of history in many 
parts of the world. 

A day or two after our arrival in Berlin, the end of 



252 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

that fateful September of 1914, at luncheon, at the 
libuse of the banker, Paul Schwabach, I heard to my 
surprise that he was in town, and that this most fas- 
tidious of men had just made the voyage in a small 
Scandinavian boat disguised as steward, — and how 
he must have hated the dirty dishes and the smells ! 

TTe had sailed in the Mauretania (en route for 
Vienna) on the 9th of the month. Dr. Edward Ryan, 
who has continued during the World War the bril- 
liant career begun in Mexico, said to me when he 
came to bid us good-by : 

"Guess whom I saw yesterday — ^von Hintze ! I was 
about to speak to him when to my surprise he put 
his finger to lips and disappeared around the corner 
of Wall and Nassau streets." 

In Berlin the address given me was a small, second- 
class hotel. I sent a note asking him for luncheon, 
but received no answer until two days later, when I 
got a telegram of regret from Rotterdam, to which 
were added the words: "They rush me to the west." 
He was then en route to Pekin. How he was able to 
get out there at that moment of the world's history 
I know not. 

On China's declaration of war, which it was report- 
ed he was able to delay for some time (and which since 
the Shantung adjudgment the Chinese are said to 
immensely regret), he began another fantastic jour- 
ney, which he brought to a successful end. After a 
short period as Minister to Norway, in July, 1918, 
he reappeared as Minister of Foreign Affairs for the 
space of a few weeks, to be replaced (he was in an 
untenable and useless situation and must have known 
it) by Dr. W. S. Solf. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 253 

When I was in Alsace visiting the French Military 
Mission, those days preceding the Armistice, his 
name was picked out of the gossipy air one day by 
Commandant Poulet — as among the Parlemen- 
tarians. He was not in the final list, however. It 
would have been another position untenable to one 
whose pride and devotion are equally boundless. 



CHAPTER XXI 

January 1, 1914 — Pass Christian — The "Humbling" of Mexico 
City — Some Idiosyncrasies of Huerta. 

Seeing how difficult it is, even with unlimited ink 
and paper and a button-holed public (which, whether 
it will or not, must read and listen), to throw light 
on the Mexican scene, we can realize the desperation 
that Huerta felt at his powerlessness to dispel Wash- 
ington's ignorance, of a situation that it insisted on 
regulating; and time was passing. His impromptu 
New Year's speech of 1914 at Chapultepec was, as his 
public utterances always were, most polite. He stated 
that he knew Mexico was not the equal of great Pow- 
ers like England, Spain, France or Germany, genially 
ignoring both the United States and my expectant 
eje as I stood but two removes from him at the table 
in Maximilian's dining room where the New Year's 
refreshments were served. He said he realized, too, 
that she had not their many blessings of culture and 
enlightenment. He then compared Mexico to a minor, 
an adoles'cent, but possessing a right to her own de- 
velopment along her own lines. He begged the mercy 
and the patience of the Powers. I found his speech 
both tragic ^nd touching, and bearing little resem- 
blance to the arrogant demands of the Carrancista 
government since so familiar to us. 

The next occurrence, the "Conference" at Pass 
Christian on January 3rd, so eagerly awaited by all, 

254 



VICTOKIANO HUERTA 255 

produced a few thistles, but no fruit. Mr. Lind, 
borne there on the wings of a battleship to meet the 
President, was "Yory satisfied with the progress of 
the rebels" in general. Mr. Bryan was further to 
puzzle the nations by stating that Villa was an "ideal- 
ist," and Mr. Wilson that "he was perhaps the safest 
man to tie to." 

This potentially momentous occasion was found in 
the end to have resembled a play depending on 
scenery and general stage setting for effect rather 
than on the pith of its dialogue, which in this 
case seems to have turned largely, as Mr. Lind in- 
formed both his friends and his enemies, on the sins 
and offenses of the Catholic Church. This informa- 
tion was the result of certain observations he had 
made from the rather restricted perspective of that 
dim back Consulate room in Vera Cruz. Tliat the 
Church worked in conformity with the laws of race 
and climate, modifying them where it could, .other- 
wise accepting them, was a fact out of the range of 
vision of the patio door. 

The mysteries of a people's political and economic 
destiny seem to have occupied but a brief part of 
the four-hour play at Pass Christian. The villain 
was certainly doomed, which was all that mattered. 

But Mr. Lind was in as unfortunate a position for 
the reception and giving of information as a tin pan 
turned upside down, having earned the contempt of 
those whose plans he was there to further, and the 
hatred of those whose plans he was there to thwart. 
So only what these two fairly comprehensive portions 
of the population did not mind spilling was brought 
to his attention. 



256 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Suggestions for "humbling" the City of Mexico, 
which Mr. Lind had found "very proud," were also 
made at Pass Christian, as Mr. Lind further confided 
to various friends, who in turn confided it to his 
enemies. The suggestions were largely concerned 
with aiding the ungrateful Villa to get there, and 
later the equally thankless Carranza. From the be- 
ginning the idea of both the President and Mr. Lind 
was the elimination of Huerta by domestic rather 
than by foreign warfare. It looked so much better. 

The "humbling" of the proud city has since been 
thoroughly accomplished. The only difference be- 
tween that procedure and the ageless methods applied 
to Carthage and Warsaw, is in the name. It was 
known as "service," even "human service"; and the 
hundred million comprising the United States ac- 
cepted it, at the time, as such. Looking back on it 
all, it seems incredible. 

Mr. Wilson from the first was essentially non- 
fatalistic concerning Mexico and left nothing to God,^ 
which is often the supremest expression of statecraft ; 
for if we will it or not, world forces, time and change, 
are stronger than separate desires, even of hate. 

The facts of the Mexican situation were, however, 

*I had the other day the following bit of conversation with Turk- 
han Pasha, the chief of the Albanian mission to the Peace Confer- 
ence apropos of whom the winged remark went about Paris that "in 
proportion as the nations are small the men representing them are 
great, and in proportion as the nations are great the men representing 
them are small." 

I: — "Bonjour, and how are things going?" 

Turkhan Pasha: — "Comme-ci, comme-ga, " with a gesture whose 
expression lay almost entirely in the movements of his fingers. 
"But I am a fatalist. One must leave something to God, — and 
that is what no one in the Conference has yet done," he ended with 
an easy and tolerant smile, though some of the wisdom of the ages 
lay in his eyes, and much of it in his words. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 257 

then to be seen, as they are to-day to be seen, and 
are as visible as the White House from the south 
side of Lafayette Square — if you are looking that 
way. The optical delusion unfortunately persists, 
but it would seem at last time to let the Mexicans 
attend to themselves, there is every chance that they 
will do it better than we. When Huerta asked the 
American Charge what was the upshot of the Pass 
Christian Conference and was told there was no 
change, his face remained perfectly impassive. He 
proceeded with an almost sublime self-control and a 
wisdom that should have had its reward, to regulate 
several rather large and pressing American claims. 
How often he said, "I don't ask help from your gov- 
ernment, but don't help my enemies, and I will do 
what I can for you." The situation was almost en- 
tirely a personal equation, and the quite pathetic 
eagerness of Huerta to please the United States in- 
creased as time went on, and he more and more un- 
derstood the imminence of disaster if he were not 
recognized. 

His public mentions 'of President Wilson were 
always couched in terms of extreme respect and 
courtesy, as were they in any private conversation 
between himself and the American Charge d' Affaires. 
It was always, "Su Excelencia el Seiior Presidente 
Wilson" — "El Ilustrado Presidente de listed," your 
learned President, etc. This unfailing tact and 
courtesy was what made the continuance of personal 
relations between him and the American Charge 
d' Affaires possible. Some will say that this was his 
craftiness and turn it to his discredit, but from what- 
ever motive his politeness proceeded, under any and 



258 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOET 

every provocation, to the last, when he was desperate, 
brought to bay, his patience and his self-control per- 
mitted him to continue it. What he really thought, 
or what he said to others, I know not, — though I sus- 
pect. 

The glance of Huerta, even half concealed behind 
those big glasses, had something strange and arrest- 
ing about it, though he might be talking in his usual 
debonair manner of pleasant and easy promises. 

That Mexican pony and saddle for my little boy 
that he used to terrify me by the playful menace of 
whenever we met, belonged fortunately to that same 
incorporeal species as the sheep roasted whole, under 
the earth, in a certain kind of ashes, that he used 
periodically to promise to send to the wife of the 
French Minister.. Both these entirely subjective be- 
ings formed, however, easy and engaging subjects of 
conversation. His entry into matters of greater mo- 
ment with the men of the Diplomatic Corps, by a 
grin and the demand, "y las muchachas" ("and the 
girls"), was also but a short and genial way of get- 
ting to matters of national concern. He knew that 
all men are grass, and a dig of the Presidential fist 
in a diplomatic rib often accompanied such ques- 
tions. It was somewhat like an Anglo-Saxon's in- 
troductory mention of the weather, and was not 
peculiar to Huerta. Reports of it, however, gave him 
a bad name in certain latitudes, where such customs 
prevail only after dark. 

Huerta's true passion was recognition. For it he 
would have bartered his soul, and his failure to win 
the favors of that heartless mistress will remain 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 259 

among the tragedies of Mexican history. His acces- 
sory obsession was "pacificaci6n." 

If he ever slept, except at hours inconvenient to 
others, is not recorded. When the request for a train 
to take ex-President Madero to Vera Cruz was pre- 
sented, he was asleep, and had given orders not to 
be disturbed. It recalls the sleep of the conqueror 
he so admired on the morning of the battle of 
Waterloo. 

The reports of his labors placed them generally 
very late at night or just before dawn, when, not 
having eaten for many hours, his Indian brain was 
highly intuitive, active, suspicious, but without fear, 
his conscience doubtless also presenting, after the 
classic manner of men in analogous situations, no ob- 
stacles to the consummation of his ends. That an im- 
mense personal pride and ambition, a boundless desire 
for justification in the world's eye accompanied all 
this, I am also sure. He believed in his Star unto its 
fatal setting in the dark waters of the Rio Grande. He 
had, too, that peiwading and serene assurance com- 
mon to all revolutionarios come to power, with which 
I grew familiar, combined with a special sense of his 
own worth, old condottiere that he was. Doubtless 
in the bottled company of those whom his enemies 
called his "best friends," Hennessy and Martell, he 
evolved plans and strategies for the "pacification" of 
Mexico which, though difficult of fulfillment, would 
not have been impossible, except for the old man of 
the sea, in the shape of the United States, that he 
found on his back. 

His retreat, spirituous, not spiritual, as it was 
sometimes called, at Popotla, on the outskirts of 



260 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Mexico City was described to me as the last expres- 
sion of simplicity, though in the American news- 
papers it was depicted as a gilded haunt of luxury 
and vice, its Sardanapalian orgies being often re- 
counted in detail. It was really composed of three 
small rooms, one of which contained a large but 
cheap table and some cane-seated chairs which were 
used by such cabinet ministers as could get in. (We 
have seen like situations since.) Cabinet meetings, 
one military attache was wont to say, generally con- 
sisted of Huerta himself and advisers in the shape of 
"copitas." He certainly needed no help to throw the 
Washington ultimata into the waste-paper basket. 

Allusions to Huerta's drinking became a habit, 
"une idee fixe." No one, however, that I knew, had 
ever seen him really intoxicated. They had at most 
seen a peculiar and concentrated steadiness in his 
eyes, and an increase in courage. 

In another room was a small iron bed, over which 
was flung a sarape, and the most diminutive of wash- 
stands and wash-basins. The third room was a sort 
of kitchen, presided over by a wrinkled old "solda- 
dera," who could be seen fanning the coals of the 
primitive "brasero" with the traditional turkey-wing, 
when preparing the more than simple repasts of the 
President, comprised largely of enchiladas, tortillas, 
tomales, and other classic Mexican dishes with a good 
deal of chili, the Indian's salt, thrown in. 

Such was the "haunt," really only a place where, 
away from the palace and his home, he found a some- 
what relative quiet. He cared little for personal com- 
fort and less for pomj) and luxury. And is it not 
natural that he, a full-blooded Indian with primi- 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 261 

live habits and instincts of abstemiousness, added to 
the hard training of guerilla and other warfare, 
should have cared little for them? In this he re- 
sembled many generals of history, and he would have 
betrayed his type had he shown any desire for 
the rumored Capuan delights. 

The Popotla retreat had furthermore a high wall 
about it, and driving past it one always saw a few 
Indians lounging or lying about the entrance, bear- 
ing little resemblance to any Praetorian guard, nor 
giving any hint of Cjesarean splendors within. 

On leaving the house in the Calle Liverpool where 
he dwelt with his family in the early months of his 
incumbency, he removed, not to Chapultepec Castle, 
which would have been in tradition, and his right, 
but to a quiet, unpretentious house, though attrac- 
tive in the Mexican way of large rooms and sunny, 
flower-planted patio, in the Calle Alfonso Herrera, 
a quiet and unfashionable quarter, reminding one of 
F Street in Washington, west of Lafayette Square. 
There was nothing that indicated the money-lover in 
Huerta.^ His aim and his desire were other. 

He had a dream, too, and be it said to his credit, he 
dreamed few at his country's expense, of being in 
Washington, a man in a black frock coat talking 
statecraft, practical statecraft, with other men in 
black frock coats. He knew nothing about "breaking 

* The statement before the Congressional Committee of Mr. William 
Bain Mitchell of the Banco de Londres y Mexico is enlightening. On 
the occasion of the loan demanded by Huerta from the various banks 
in Mexico City for the purpose of stamping out the Carranza revolt, 
the witness states that though packages of bank-notes which had been 
delivered to the Treasury of the Government were returned to the 
bank of which he was manager for the purpose of buying drafts on 
Europe for A-urious members of the government, in no case did he ever 
see a draft bought in favor of Huerta. 



'262 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

the heart of the world/' or "making the world safe 
for democracy," or about "wars to end war," or any 
of the matters we have so abundantly learned about 
since. But he knew a spade when he saw it, and he 
often called it a "bloody shovel," or the Spanish 
equivalent, which is worse. 

"After the country is pacified," he once said to the 
American Charge, "I am going to Washington in my 
best clothes," and here he took off his top hat, looked 
at it lovingly, smoothing its furry spots with that 
small bronze hand of his, "just to show them that I 
am not a blood-smeared savage clad in a breech-clout, 
with a bottle of aguardiente in one hand and a 
machete in the other." 

The diplomatic receptions were held at the Castle, 
and as may be imagined, were as many-sided as 
Huerta himself. His "society" acts were ingenuous 
and like nothing else that I have ever seen, resem- 
bling not at all the cosmopolitan "correction" of the 
de la Barra receptions, nor the "fade" provinciality 
of those of Madero. Sometimes thej^ were gay and 
short, sometimes they were long and sad. Sometimes 
Huerta talked, and sometimes he didn't. They all, 
however, bore the stamp of his personality and his 
mood. 

The first was given on the 19th of November, when 
the hand of the super-flumine Lord was heavy upon 
him, and he was already busily engaged in getting rid 
of members of his cabinet, who were more impatient 
and less optimistic than he of "recognition" and its 
attendant advantages, and who doubtless got on his 
nerves. His methods and manners, too, were at times 
probably unpleasant, and it was beginning to be 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 263 

apparent that lie was unlucky, the greatest of all 
crimes in a public man. (In getting rid of his cab- 
inet, however, he but presaged the later methods of his 
illustrious antagonist to the north.) 

Villa was running true to type in and about 
Torreon. Mr. Lind had just taken an impatient de- 
parture from Mexico City after what the Belgian 
minister, M. May, called his second "fausse couche," 
the first having taken place the previous August. 

The convening of Congress, which had been set for 
the 15th, was delayed. 

The American charge was in possession of one of 
the periodical ultimata, though for two days he had 
been unable to find Huerta, to deliver it to him, as 
he knew for what he was being sought. Garza 
Aldape, Minister of Interior, had just made one of 
those forced descents from the Plateau to Vera Cruz 
and Europe, with which we afterwards became so 
familiar. The diplomats thought the ultimatum, 
when delivered, would mean war. 

It was under these conditions of what might be 
called seismic disturbance that the first official re- 
ception of the President and his wife took i)lace. 
Everything was extremely well done on this occasion. 
To whom this was owing, I know not; there was an 
abundance about the buffet, a multiplicity of lights 
and flowers that had not been observed during the 
more provincial and less picturesque Madero regime. 
But underneath it all were the same secret hostilities, 
and the sempiternal Mexican personalism at play. 

He came about six o'clock, walking quickly into 
the Salon of the Ambassadors to the strains of the 
national anthem, and looking scrutinizingly about 



264 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

him. The assembly rose. I was presented, which 
presentation was the "clou/' under existing political 
conditions, of the reception. He was of an extreme 
courtesy, regretting that "so good a lady" (tan 
buena Senora) as I should find matters still 
strained on her return; that he hoped for a way 
out of the very natural difflculties, and perhaps, 
with a smile, "now that you have returned, things 
may take a turn for the better." It was such a wel- 
come as any head of a nation trained in courtesies 
might have offered under similar circumstances. 
With Huerta, it was pure instinct. 

The next reception, on December 17th, lacked the 
snap and go of the first. Huerta was silent and 
preoccupied. The champagne had scarcely been 
poured when he gave his arm to Madame Lefaivre, 
who w^as on his right and, wines and viands untasted, 
he led the way back into the Salon of the Ambassa- 
dors, from which he shortly disappeared. After 
which the reception fell, as it were, automatically to 
pieces. 

The interior financial situation was then very bad. 
Enormous runs on the Banco Nacional and the Banco 
de Londres y Mexico were taking place and many 
shops were hanging out signs to the effect that notes 
of certain states in the north like Chihuahua, Coa- 
huila, Queretaro, etc., would not be accepted. Huerta 
was also faced with the imminence of an act most 
repugnant to his pride and against his common sense, 
the repudiation of the Foreign Debt. 

Fiat money was making its disturbing appear- 
ance on the fiscal scene, and Carranza's voice was 
first breathed over the Mexican Eden in really 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 265 

audible accents (with an empty echo of gold and sil- 
ver) when he began in the north in 1913 to accost 
the uncorrupted Porfirista-Limantourian currency. 
He proved himself a sad rake where it was con- 
cerned, for it promptly fell from its proud estate, 
and became the constitutionalista fiat money, a scan- 
dal to the country and a stumbling-block unto the 
nations. 

Bills began to appear shamelessly and quite inade- 
quately covered with but one signature, often simply 
that of the nearest and most interested jefe-politico. 
The charms of these bills were sometimes enhanced, 
though insufficiently for purchasing purposes, by the 
picture of a high-busted, floating-haired female. 
Others had a design of crossed guns and bandolier 
in one corner, in the oblique lower corner were the 
volcanoes smoking to heaven, while the bias space 
between the corners had the untraceable name, 
"Lopez" (like to Smith or Jones), almost concealed 
in an unending, labyrinthian flourish. But all this 
was no more substantial than a dew-sprinkled . cob- 
web, when taken to a real bank, where there was a 
real receiving-teller. Thrifty men began to get anx- 
ious, and they have been anxious ever since. 

If the story of the Carrancista finances did not 
mean ruin to Mexico, and the sealing up of the treas- 
ure house of the world to the nations of the earth, 
since gone bankrupt, it would be comedy pure and 
simple, and would bring some sort of a sickly smile 
to the face of him who surveys it, even if he has 
"invested in Mexico" and is a "liar." 

At the reception given on the 18th of March to 
celebrate the betrothal of Victor, his second son, and 



266 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

the daughter of General Hernandez (whose head, it 
is reported, was subsequently given to General Obre- 
gon on a platter for a Christmas present), Huerta 
was in fine feather. The plot was thickening, but the 
conservative elements were at last out in force. It 
was Mexico against the United States, rather than 
Mexican against Mexican, and much was possible. 
The upper classes in their various iniquitous forms, 
notably land-owners, financiers, savants, etc., were to 
the fore. There seemed to be some promise of cohe- 
sion, something that Huerta could count on within 
the country. He had called that morning a meeting 
which had been attended by various important hacen- 
dados, in which he had begged their support in the 
national crisis. Their attitude had evidently been 
very satisfactory. His wife, too, was smiling. Her 
handsome face, generally grave, was lighted by a 
look of happiness in her fine eyes, noticeably fine in 
a race in which, whatever else of form and feature 
may be lacking, the eyes are almost invariably beauti- 
ful, — large-socketed, with something deep and dark 
in brow and lash, and a beautiful smooth oval shadow 
underneath. All was set off by a really good dress of 
white silk veiled with fine black lace, the famous big 
round diamond so much discussed, hanging about her 
neck. The "tearless old man," electric, magnetic, car- 
ried off the occasion in a masterly way. Of his 
speech on that occasion, I would recall here but one 
sentence : "Struggle is the essence of life, and those 
who are not called on to struggle, are forgotten of 
heaven." 

Concerning his own marital relations, he alluded 
to himself as "a model," adding, after a slight pause, 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 267 

when one of the diplomats whispered to me that the 
big diamond was probably the offering of a contrite 
heart — "but a mediocre one." 

He received the felicitations of the guests with a 
genial and courteous cordiality. It was the last time 
I saw him in that mood. Events were rolling up with 
immense momentum. 

The next and ultimate reception was on the 15th 
of April. The "Tampico incident" had happened. 

The officials were all more or less uneasy, the few 
wives and daughters at the reception, silent and em- 
barrassed. It was a Balshazzar's feast. Never had 
those walls been more scrawled with signs. Within 
the week Vera Cruz was taken, and the juggernaut 
disfavor of Washington had started out to crush 
Mexico and her people. Huerta w^as then in the last 
ditch and doubtless knew it. It may have been a 
relief after the wearing suspense, the endless defer- 
ring of hope, the continual acrobatics necessary to 
preserve his balance. After a long talk with the 
American* Charge behind the closed doors of the bed- 
room next the large Salon, the assembly awaiting on 
the palm-banked terrace, listening to the Rurales 
clad in their silver embroidered costumes, white felt 
hats wdth a heavy cord of scarlet repeating the flam- 
ing note of their cravats, he suddenly appeared. 
Expression was wiped from his face, which was like 
a mask. He came straight to me, offering his arm. 
But the Chef du Protocol headed him off, the minis- 
tress of Guatemala being his destiny. I was put on 
his left. He w^as restless and silent. I quoted him 
the pacifying but untrue words of Santa Teresa: 
"La paciencia todo lo alcanza" (patience attains all 



268 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

things). "Patience, — I am made of it/' lie said in 
the course of the conversation that f ollov/ed, I embar- 
rassed, he desperate; he added, "I keep my month 
shut," and pulled his lips together and frowned 
deeply. I remember feeling an odious and guilty un- 
easiness. It is only comfortable to crush the weak at a 
distance. I felt like both the upper and nether mill- 
stone, with Mexico between. I complimented him on 
his speech of the day before at the barracks, which had 
really been a masterpiece for a man keeping his bal- 
ance on the edge of the abyss. His face relaxed for 
a moment when I said it might have been delivered 
by the Emperor of Germany to his troops. He 
thanked me with something gi^ateful yet desperate in 
his look, but for the rest, as any gentleman anywhere 
would have acknowledged a compliment. His coat 
seemed to hang loosely over his shoulders, and 
there was something shrunken in his body. The next 
day he discarded the frock coat and top hat which 
he had told the American Charge that he intended 
always to wear, as it "gave more dignity," and was 
seen in a slouch hat and a thick, formless gray 
sweater. 

During this harassed period, he outlined what 
to many seemed a practical policy for the solu- 
tion of the agrarian question in Mexico. He was 
often heard to say that next in importance to the 
restoration of order was that of working out some 
plan by which the people, after due preparation, 
would have an interest in the land, and therefore 
some vital reason for desiring and maintaining peace. 

After witnessing the fiasco of the Madero plan for 
the distribution of lands, which was as impossible of 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 269 

fulfillment as slicing up the moon, he meant to try 
other means. He saw no reason for holding out to 
the people the suicidal delusion that they could get 
it otlier than by their own efforts and hold it other 
than by their own labor. The land problem, as far 
as his struggles with the United States and with the 
internal enemies of the government permitted, was 
much in his mind. But during his incumbency the 
demand unfortunately was on nearly all occasions for 
the sword rather than the plow. 

Indian himself, he knew w^hat land means to the 
Indian — not a spot that he has paid for and been 
taxed for. It is more. It is ambience, tradition, en- 
■vironment, deathless group-instinct of the past. 
From it he draws the breath not alone of his body, 
but of his spirit. And ignorant as the Indian has 
been and is and will be, he feels for his land 
atavistically something that the spiy tenant-farmer 
of northern latitudes and modern times can never feel. 

If we look at the facts in the case, as early as the 
March after Huerta's accession to power, his gifted 
Secretary of the Treasury, Toribio Esquivel Obre- 
gon, introduced before Congress a bill that asked in 
the President's name for an appropriation of seven 
millions of pesos to buy lands for the purpose of dis- 
tributing them among the poor in certain farming 
districts, not dependent for success on non-existent 
irrigation processes. One of his last public civil acts 
before the breaking off of diplomatic relations on the 
23rd of April, 1914, and at which I was not able to 
be present, was the distribution of land in person 
to Indians in the valley of Mexico. It was about this 
time that he was also preparing to send representa- 



270 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

tives to the Electro-Technical Congress to be held in 
Berlin, and that his persecuted government was still 
finding time to discuss such matters as the subter- 
ranean hydrology of the Plateau. 

When Congress reopened on the 1st of April, the 
week before the fatal "Tampico Incident," Huerta 
showed a rare emotion when the American Charge 
d' Affaires told him he could not be present. Prob- 
ably he then foresaw death and disaster. 

He wound up his speech to the Chamber by say- 
ing : "Before I leave this hall, I must engrave upon 
your hearts this my purpose, which on another occa- 
sion I communicated to the National Assembly, in 
the most explicit manner, the peace of the Republic. 
If in order to secure it "the sacrifice of you and me 
becomes indispensable, we will know how to sacrifice 
ourselves. This is my purpose, my profession of 
political faith." . . . 

The sight of Huerta at the Cafe Colon and at "El 
Globo," sitting before a table with the damning 
"copita" in front of him, talking sometimes Jokingly 
with those accompanying him, sometimes silent, be- 
came familiar to all. In his automobile, going up the 
Paseo, through the Park gates en route for Popotla, 
he was also a frequent figure, followed by one or more 
automobiles filled with ignored cabinet ministers in 
frock-coats and eager generals, new and old, in decora- 
tion-hung uniforms, who had not achieved an audience 
at his last stopping place, or who had seen Huerta 
prepare to depart when they were in the middle of a 
sentence. He let Ms followers bore him as little as 
possible. 

Even Huerta's fifth or sixth Minister for Foreign 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 271 

Affairs, Querido Moheno, mutated from a clever but 
chauvinistic and somewhat turbulent Deputy, and 
whose ardors Huerta doubtless thought to cool by the 
responsibilities of a Portfolio, could be seen on the 
chase. 

One of the diplomats told him he looked like 
Mirabeau and doubtless he wished to save Huerta as 
his prototype did the Court. Possessing real oratori- 
cal gifts, his great head, with its bushy hair, gener- 
ally thrown back, his small, brilliant eyes lighting his 
swarthy face, he was perhaps not unlike the great 
Tribune. 

His successor, Portillo y Rojas, thin, pale, well- 
dressed, anxious, and honest, was less given to the 
elusive sport of running the President to earth, but 
even he, as well as the other Ministers, were apt to 
keep it up as long as breath and strength lasted. 

Both pursued and pursuers dashing down the 
broad avenue remain in my memory as figures with 
outstretched legs on some antique frieze representing 
a chase. 

All judgments being subjective, the least one can 
do is to give one's own testimony rather than 
another's. Some study of Huerta will show him to 
have been at all moments of his destiny a man stand- 
ing in high relief against events, imparting color to 
whatever he touched; something vivid, vigilant, and 
unafraid continually emanated from his person. 

Indeed his dauntless physical courage, in both big 
and little things, was his greatest natural gift and 
reacted magnetically upon those about him. It was 
known that he went by preference to a barber whose 
brother he had had executed and who had sworn 



272 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

vengeance against him; yet day after day the Presi- 
dential throat was calmly presented to his razor. 
Another determining attribute was that peculiar, 
muffled, drum-like cadencQ of his voice. It was the 
martial tone and though not loud was as a call to 
arms. Opinions about what he did and said, as well 
as what he was, were generally conflicting even at the 
moment of their occurrence. Time has but further 
confused instead of clarifying them. 

A French diplomat, now safe in what he calls "le 
port des lettres," said to me the other day, illustra- 
tive of divergent opinions as to a happening in the 
Peace Conference,^ that during one of the aerial 
bombardments of Paris, he and a friend, after some 
hours in a cellar, issued forth to see if the raid was 
over. It was not, and near the door a man was lying 
dead. On his return to his cave-dwelling companions 
he was asked what he had seen. He replied that just 
outside was a workman in a blue blouse lying dead. 
His companion, who had looked upon the same spec- 
tacle, said: "But no, it was a poilu in his blue 
tunic." It was the subjective fact, which is as near 
as blind mortals ever get to the truth, and our only 
guide as we go feeling our way through life. It 
will forever be the supreme individual treachery 
not to hold to it. One may be led into many wrong 
paths, but they can never be as disastrous as that 
leading to the abyss of hearsay. 

* As no minutes were kept of these informal and cloistered meetings, 
by which the fate of Europe, Asia and Africa was decided, the emi- 
nent statesmen attending them could never be pinned down to definite 
statements. "I didn't say that," or "I didn't mean to give that 
impression," was the usual remark when reference was made to dis- 
cussions of the day or the week or the month before. It proved to be 
neither as simple nor as satisfactory as it seemed at the time. 



CHAPTER XXII 

The Eaising of the Embargo, February, 1914. 

Huerta's position at the moment of the raising of 
the Embargo on arms and ammunition into Mexico 
from the United States was formidable, from the 
point of view of "paciflcacion." He had over 50,000 
troops and could get more. He had control of the 
Federal Revenues, and he saw his way to a sub- 
stantial interior loan. 

The aristocratic classes were behind him, willingly 
or unwillingly is a detail. The example of Don Luis 
Garcia Pimental is probably a fair one. In his 
usual high-handed manner Huerta had exacted con- 
tributions, Don Luis having immense sugar planta- 
tions. He had replied, "Give me men to harvest and I 
will give you contributions." Huerta gave the men; 
Don Luis the contributions. 

The clergy were with him, impious as he was, for 
he represented legality. A large per cent of what we 
once styled the intellectuals, now more modishly 
called the "intelligentsia," were with him. So were 
the rural classes (with the exception of the Morelos 
Indians, strongly commanded by Zapata), and the 
lower urban classes, too, wanted peace, peace. Of 
course the business world wanted it, and was 
ready to aid in its establishment. Huerta had fur- 
thermore been recognized by every great and little 

273 



274 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

power, whose representatives found themselves 
treated with courtesy and their demands with con- 
sideration. Such was his eagerness to please the 
United States that he would have decimated a Mexi- 
can regiment to give satisfaction for the loss of an 
American life, had it been asked of him. 

Things had not been so promising since the Augus- 
tan Period. 

His Mexican enemies he could easily have handled. 
Villa was held anathema by the British. The Ben- 
ton murder case, with Villa, the murderer, untried, 
was contrary to all British precedent, which upholds 
the dignity of its subjects at any cost (which, how- 
ever, never comes so high as not doing it). The 
Terrazas ransom matter and the excesses in Durango 
and in Tamaulipas, the looting of Chihuahua, even at 
that early date, made all very doubtful if Villa were 
really "a safe man to tie to." 

Carranza himself was at that time quite negligible. 
He had no soldiers except a few State troops, no 
arms nor ammunitions, and he had no support from 
men in the capital who had known him but as a silent 
and somewhat lethargic senator in the Federal Con- 
gress. Senor Rabasa who had sat by him for fifteen 
years had never even heard the sound of his voice. He 
was, however, of excellent presence, his face having, 
indeed, been his fortune. He was nearing the end of 
middle life. In the warmth of Washington we all 
know what hatched from that dry old cocoon. 
Pandora's box is nothing to it. It has been said that 
President Wilson's horror of Huerta sprang from his 
own great virtue, but even so he seems, as some one 
has pointed out, scarcely justified, in the punishment 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 275 

on circumstantial evidence only of murder, by 
dragging 15,000,000 human beings into a fratricidal 
war. As Mr. Wilson's duties at home at that time 
prevented him from engaging in the affairs of the 
world, and unfortunately rendered it quite impos- 
sible for him to take over the government of Mexico 
himself,^ and to carry out his views for the 85 per 
cent thoroughly in his own way, on the principle that 
if you want a thing well done, do it yourself, the only 
reasonable alternative was to let the work be done in 
their way, by a man who happened to be the legal 
President of his country. According to the constitu- 
tion of Mexico he was even as legal as Madero, though 
there were certain superficial differences about his 
legality that made it less oftener on his tongue. 

When therefore on the 3rd of February the Em- 
bargo was raised, the Mexicans were committed to a 
fratricidal war, that still, after seven years, is in full 
vigor; for only from the blood of brothers could the 
etiolated being of the Carranza faction gain size and 
strength to fight the strong central power. The pos- 
sibility of this hideous nourishment was supplied 
from abroad. The war that we brought about leading 
to the triumph of Carranza over the established gov- 
ernment of his country is as sanguinaiy, as anti-social, 
as destructive of the rights of men and of property 
as any that was ever waged. It was decreed on the 
3rd day of February, 1913, and a free and great and 
justice-loving people allowed it. On that day there 
was the usual courtesy, but a gravity in the manner of 

* The observation of the witty Frenchman was still on the lap of 
the gods, or rather on that of the Peafe Conference, to the effect that 
though the dictum of Louis XIV had been, "I am the State," Mr. 
Wilson 's was, " I am all the States. " ■ 



276 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

the heads of Missions to whom the American Charge 
communicated: the fact, in conformity with his or- 
ders. In every man's heart lay a great though 
unspoken reproach. The Spanish Minister, who had 
been so helpless in face of the cruel disasters that 
had befallen his nationals, largely as a result of our 
fancy for Villa, made but a weary gesture of accept- 
ance. It was doubtless to him but one more inex- 
plicable and cruel mistake. The French Secretary 
was polite, but quite impassive. He was married to 
the sister of the man, General Rincon Gallardo, who, 
as Chief of the Rural Guard, was doing admirable 
work in keeping order. There was indeed nothing to 
be said. 

The German Minister, who was seen later in the 
day, remarked quietly and very coldly, "Another step 
to Panama." Later I drove out with Lady Garden, 
sitting afterwards with her in the parched, new gar- 
den of the Legation. Sir Lionel, though perfectly 
polite, was aghast, realizing the magnitude of the 
disaster. He was a man of very handsome face and 
bearing in the traditional, blond English way. 
Standing at the door, the brilliant light of that Feb- 
ruary noon-tide revealed the trouble of his spirit. 
He saw a whole people, by the stroke of an alien pen, 
being precipitated over the abyss. As a man held in 
an evil dream, he could make no gesture to warn them 
from a disaster so avertible. 

It was not until evening that the American Charge 
was able to track Huerta to the Palace. He drove 
hastily there to inform him of the decree, in con- 
formity with his orders from Washington. It was 
about 7:30. The British Minister was with the 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 277 

President, whose voice could be heard raised in vio- 
lent protest, the door being half open. The American 
Charge thouglit that Huerta had at last lost patience, 
and prepared himself for the worst. After a few 
minutes the interview terminated. The President 
accompanied Sir Lionel to the door, bade him fare- 
well, and stood courteously waiting while the bearer 
of the evil news passed in. He was suddenly quite 
calm, and had never been more polite nor more 
friendly. He did not mention President Wilson, but 
said very quietly that the raising of the Embargo 
would but give a recognized name to the smuggling 
over the border that had been going on for several 
years. He repeated many times that the future 
would justify him and his acts, that the whole atti- 
tude of the American government towards him was 
"una persecucion." He never flinched, though his 
mind must have taken note of the new and probably 
insurmountable difficulties with which he was faced. 
On the termination of the interview he ordered the 
classic "copitas," and said rather pathetically that 
he greatly appreciated the Charge's courteous atti- 
tude in those difficult days, that he was "muy neces- 
sario" to the situation, and that he would still hope 
for some solution of matters. The interview then 
terminated, Huerta accompanying the Charge to the 
door, as he had done the British Minister. There 
was no different measure in his courtesy. 

Such was the fatal day of February 3rd, 1914. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

Huerta 'a Military Ability — His Typical Attitude Toward ' ' Religion ' ' 
— A Conversation Concerning the Mystical Life of the Indian 
and the Conversion of Sinners. 

Huerta's conduct of the campaign in Morelos 
against Zapata was marked by energy, decision and 
considerable finesse, and would have borne early 
fruit, but for certain mysterious deterrent forces, 
alwa^^s handicapping any military plans he made. 
The Minister of War, Gonsalez Salas, even made the 
statement, towards the end of Mr. de la Barra's in- 
cumbency, that in three days after Madero assumed 
power the Zapata question would be solved. There 
naturally followed lively discussions in the Chamber 
of Deputies as to what that magic word would be, 
and if it were to be said that it might as well be 
said quickly. 

It was not, however, until to Huerta was en- 
trusted the campaign against Orozco that his mili- 
tary genius became apparent. This miniature cam- 
paign, for he never had more than 7,000 men under 
his command and we are since accustomed to speak 
of millions of men arrayed against other millions, 
was, however, a model of generalship; the great 
military qualities were all shown by him, as well as 
some foreshadowing the ability he displayed in the 
greater contest between himself and the President of 
the United States. His advance from Rellano to 

278 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 279 

Bachimba in that June and July of 1912 was a series 
of brilliant victories. He became the "military 
geniMs" of the hour, and we have seen how potential 
is thai role. His prestige increased from moment to 
moment, Later the music we all stepped liveliest to 
in Mexico City was the Bachimba March, where he 
completely routed Orozco, and the Rellano Waltz, 
where he had wiped out the stain of General Gon- 
salez Salas' retreat with the Federal troops, after 
the crushing blow struck by Orozco. That Huerta 
and Orozco were one day to lie side by side in the 
Concordia Cemetery of El Paso was on the lap of 
the gods. 

The curious Fourth of July reception marking 
Orozco's defeat, that the Maderos held at Chapultepec, 
had nothing to do with the weighty and august fes- 
tival of the step-sister Republic to the north. Ex- 
cept by polite and mindful colleagues, we were only 
incidentally congratulated as we took our departure. 
The single subject of conversation was the Bachimba 
battle of the day before, the flight of Orozco towards 
the American border, and the entry of Huerta at the 
head of his victorious troops into the Chihuahuan 
capital. Both the President and Madame Madero 
were radiant at the rout of the man in whom, not six 
months before, they had placed the fullest faith. The 
walls of the Castle of Chapultepec "were quite thickly 
scribbled with writing, yet nobody looked or read. 

A strange wind came up as tea was being served 
on the Pompeian Terrace, designed under Maxi- 
milian, bringing with it a short, almost terrifying, 
darkness. Everything was blown about, vases over- 
turned, there was a great flapping of table-cloths, 



280 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

a holding on of hats, and it was impossible to follaw 
the President's speech. His last words to me as I 
made my adieux were, "Order is now complete," and 
I daresay he believed it, though his astute consort, 
acting along less psychic lines, must have had misgiv- 
ings. It was the only Mexican campaign where 
Huerta had a chance to show his gifts, though he was 
to manifest generalship of a high order (for which 
history rather than his contemporaries ^ill give him 
credit), in keeping, during long months, out of the 
strategical traps laid for him above the Rio Grande. 
But no man can escape not simply his fate, but the 
laws of nature, which work so inexorably that lesser 
things must be destroyed by greater things and weak- 
ness must give way to force. Governmental protection 
of the enemies of government was his mischance every- 
where, from the partiality of Madero for Zapata in 
the Morelos campaign, to the partiality of the United 
States for Villa and Carranza in his "American" 
campaign. And a general must have luck. 

A word as to what a somewhat conventional- 
minded missionary acquaintance called "Huerta's 
religion." He probably did not "love Jesus," neither 
would he have called for hymns with "more Jesus" 
in them had he been at Sunday-school. His true 
attitude was doubtless uncertainty (not peculiar to 
himself) as to the essence and shape of the hereafter, 
mingled with an uneasy feeling that he ought to 
propitiate whatever gods there be by burnt or other 
offerings. That he recognized the value of the Catho- 
lic church to the Indian, that it clothed in actual 
form the visions of an Indian race, that he had some 
instinctive, not theological, knowledge of its supreme 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 281 

anil vital uses in government, also as an element of 
prosperity and happiness, I have no doubt. He knew, 
too, that society cannot exist without inequality of 
fortune, and that this inequality is impossible to sup- 
port without religion. His enemies, and those of the 
Church, said he desired to sustain the Catholic party 
to further his own ends. The Catholic party on the 
contrary, found that the Huertista cymbals, when 
struck, were apt to give back a faint and uncertain 
sound. He was in his usual position, on both horns 
of the dilemma. 

In the night that shrouds his birth, one cannot 
know if he were baptized in the faith, but he was 
married in the faith; he had his children baptized 
in the faith. As the world knows, he died in the 
faith. 

To him the church was as integral a part of Mexico 
as her seasons, her rainfall and her droughts. He 
was mostly respectful and conciliatory to the minis- 
ters of religion, doubtless recognizing the church as 
one of the few available rocks on which to build his 
state; that he was completely uninterested (except 
politically) by dogma, I also do not doubt. Ameri- 
can Missionaries were protected, though not pam- 
pered, by him, as a part of his policy towards the 
United States. He knew their labors would be in the 
end but as seed sown in the wind. He let them sow. 

I myself am often mindful of a conversation I once 
had on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, one late prodi- 
gally beautiful afternoon with an anxious, hard- 
working, conscientious converter of men's souls, who 
seemed mystifyingly alien, even superfluous, in that 
riot of vegetation and human nature which is the 



282 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Istlimus. Mr. Smith was small of stature, narrow- 
shouldered, with a red-rimmed yet righteous eye. 
There was something arrestingly etiolated about him 
(though perhaps it was only the background), some- 
what as if his Maker at the hour when his being was 
decreed had rather stingily thrown in the condi- 
ments. He didn't like the immemorial way things 
were done on the Isthmus and he had little solicitude 
for its beauty. 

I (though not especially interested) asked, "What 
form is your work taking?" 

Mr. Smith (authoritatively, determinedly, but 
somewhat unfortunately) : "We're going to teach 
them, for one thing, habits of cleanliness." 

I (surprised) : "But haven't you seen them bathing 
every evening at sunset in the stream that flows 
through the town?" 

I would add for the reader's enlightenment that the 
entire population, men, women and children, bathe 
every evening, and without bathing suits either, such 
is the inherited impulse of the Indian towards water 
in the Hot Country. All this I indicated, but even 
more delicately, to Mr. Smith. 

He (rigidly) : "We want to stop just that sort of 
thing, and by law, if necessary." 

I (feeling brighter than I probably was, and de- 
sirous of meeting him on evangelical grounds) : "St. 
Paul says, 'through the law came sin.' Why disturb 
their innocence?" 

He (disregarding this remark, facts not scholastic 
disputation, were pushing him on) : "Another and 
more important item of our program is to teach them 
agriculture. Nine-tenths of them (sweepingly) know 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 283 

nothing about it. We intend to be thoroughly prac- 
tical in all we do. I've heard they still use forked 
sticks for plows in many parts of the country, and 
I've seen them with my own eyes cutting large tracts 
of grass with pieces of tin." 

I glanced at Mr. Smith. His complexion was that 
of a man who had lived all his life between walls. 
I further saw that he had pale hands, with narrow- 
nailed, short fingers, and I couldn't say if his cravat 
pin were in the shape of a whip or a rather fanciful 
cross. 

"But in Sonora vast stretches are under cultiva- 
tion, and they even export a huge amount. They'd 
export everything if nobody were looking," I ended 
with a smile, but it evoked none from him. He was 
in earnest. I began to get restless. The theopneustic 
methods of agriculture, broad as they were, did not 
really interest me. At that very moment under a 
dome of aquamarine and lemon, getting indigo and 
gold at its edges, down by the high, now fire-red, 
incandescent mud-banks of their stream, women with 
long, deeply-flounced skirts of white or pink or blue, 
the end of the flounce caught up at the waist, making 
an oblique and flowing Tanagra-like line, were has- 
tening to their spectrum-colored bath, accompanied 
by naked brown boys, long-skirted little girls, and 
men dressed in white shirts hanging out over their 
trousers, both of which articles they were ready to 
discard when in sight of the stream. But Mr. Smith 
had something insistent about him and I delayed. 

He : "To come down to brass tacks, we intend to 
knock all their superstition on the head." 



284 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

I : ^'What are you going to do about the mystical 
life of the Indian? No one lives by bread alone." 

His face hardened. 

He: "Mystical life! Do you know I saw an In- 
dian tying a poor little bird to the feet of one of those 
Madonnas the other day?" 

I : "He must have been in pretty bad trouble, and 
needing help" — ( tentatively ) . 

He brushed aside with a single gesture me and 
the Indian and the bird and the Madonna. 

"We intend to foster, it will be slow we know, en- 
tirely different standpoints and habits. The Union 
Publishing houses, the Institutional Churches, the 
Social Centers will become to them, in time, what the 
old town hall is to us, places where they will meet 
and learn to discuss civic and social problems." 

In a flash I saw them gathering immemorially, and 
not to the Union Publishing House, not to the Insti- 
tutional Church, nor to the Social Center, but as for 
the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a biting, 
hyemal night (December 12th). Whole families 
would have come sometimes fifty kilometers, some- 
times a hundred, on foot, and many who lived in the 
outlying villages would have done it on their knees. 
That crowded, twilight Plaza before the Church re- 
sembled little and would continue to resemble little 
the old town-hall evoked by his words. In that cold 
dusk they might be their own ancestors, so unchanged 
were they by four hundred Aryan years. Doubtless 
Mr. Smith's zeal would have redoubled could he have 
seen the images in their minds of the "Cause of 
Causes," for before the Church was built, on the same 
spot, there was a temple to the Aztec Ceres, Tonant- 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 285 

zin, their Mother, too. But whatever it all was, it 
was their own as much as Mr. Smith's own probably 
non-resemblant idea of the Deity. Again I put out 
my hand to take leave of him, but still he held me, 
saying : 

"I don't think you quite understand the impor- 
tance of our work, and the self-sacriflce it entails.'^ 
(On the Indians, I hatefully thought.) "Every 
American man and woman should take a vital in- 
terest in it." 

The green fig tree in the garden was become a 
scarlet-gold. The huacamaia with the red and green 
head and the blue tail was armored in ruby and 
emerald and sapphire as it flew out of its burning 
branches. 

It was the strange, synthetic, compensatory hour 
before the fall of tropical night. 

As in a dream and from a great distance his thin 
voice reached me : 

"We are going to make this country over before we 
finish." 

With an effort I answered, for visions of motion- 
less Indians, with outstretched arms, kneeling in dim 
churches, besought me: 

"A country without w^orship which is the heritage 
of life and a people whose only treasure it often 

is " I was stopped by an invading dismay. He 

couldn't change the heart of the Indian without 
breaking it, but he could possibly defeat beauty and 
love, here on their own ground, and tarnish forever 
the gloiy of the "patria chica." I knew then that 
I was not for Mr. Smith, nor he for me. There was 
a sure way. 



286 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"I'm a papist," I began, but stopped, for startled, 
he gave me a look such as an uplift worker might 
give on suddenly discovering a haunt of vice. The 
edifice of our conversation fell to pieces, like a jostled 
house of cards. 

I contemplated Mr. Smith vaguely, for what I 
knew was the last time, then forgot him, and went 
out into the brief twilight, thick and heavy with the 
scent of an unknown tree in full flower. Sweet, an- 
cient impulses stirred vaguely within me, but they 
were not for the conversion of sinners. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

Propaganda as the Finest of Arts and the Most Expensive — Oil — 
Some of the Blessings of " Carrancismo " — Senor Don Luia 
Cabrera Shows the Corruptible, It Rises Incorruptible — Oil Again. 

Huerta had no propaganda, and in this twentieth 
century it has shown itself to be the most powerful 
weapon of offense and defense ever conceived by man. 
Any one attempting to fight without it is as a man 
with a sling before heavy artillery. Its operation 
on the masses is like concealed fire. It awaits but 
the moment that is its own. 

Under Huerta's successful rival it became the 
finest of arts — though the most expensive. It is a 
lesson in the way propaganda funds should be 
handled. Never skimp — after you have taken all you 
want for yourself. 

Carranza was even able for the not over-discrimi- 
nating American public to create a type. It is the 
most successful thing he did. At an early day one 
saw on all sides in Washington and New York re- 
spectable Mexicans, rather silent except when speak- 
ing of the Constitution, who, as far as nature 
permitted, became Carrancista in looks as well as 
deeds. They grew long beards, when they could, 
were easily thin and dark, and looked old enough to 
be past the age of follies. When they did open their 
mouths it was to breathe gently of "Libertad," 

287 



288 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"Fraternidad" and "La Constitucion." If they ever 
raised their voices it was to deplore Don Porfirio's 
pernicious one-man rule and Huerta's bloodthirsty 
ways, and above all his horrid, alcoholic tastes, for 
of course none of them ever drank anything stronger 
than chocolate. They could get any amount of 
money, together with consignments of arms and am- 
munition (which last they generally lost to uncamou- 
flaged bandits prowling along the road between the 
Rio Grande and Mexico City). 

A part of the enlightened press of the country fell 
before their propaganda. Even the "Nation" showed 
a tendency to treat Carranza as if he were a saint in a 
niche, and was ready to sell his relics to the faith- 
ful. 

The past years have been hard years and we have 
all sat at school, the school of facts, and the books, 
alas, have been written in blood; but for all this we 
still too often mistake black for white, and when we do 
not happen to be color-blind, fail to distinguish the 
size or shape of near objects. So convincing indeed 
was this special propaganda that the "Nation" could 
print, without a sign of a smile, paragraphs about 
President Carranza's submitting a law to "clarify" 
the petroleum situation, when it is already as clear as 
day to those who are robBed and those who rob, which 
two categories are fairly inclusive of all who have to 
do with petroleum. It could also print an interview 
with the "divine breath of the fatherland," as one of 
his eulogists called Carranza, concerning the dissemi- 
nation of knowledge, where he says, among other 
things, "In the meantime, my government prefers to 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 289 

give its best efforts to the extension of primary edu- 
cation." The starving, unpaid teachers, the starving, 
untaught children and the empty school buildings 
were the facts in the case. However, there was and 
doubtless continues to be one department of primary 
(and advanced) education liberally endowed by the 
government, where the professors are the best to be 
had for money. This is the education given new fol- 
lowers of Constitutionalism by their private secre- 
taries, and is a more systematic corruption of the 
green and sometimes well-intentioned, land-distribut- 
ing bandit from the country than ever was practiced 
on any crown prince or any plutocrat's son for his 
moral ruin. He is put up to new and scientific ways of 
despoiling the people ( he used simply to take what he 
happened to see if it pleased him, and he was not out- 
numbered). In the white light of Carrancism he dis- 
covers a dozen other ways. The secretary further- 
more tells him all the naughty and pleasant things 
there are to do in town. In fact educates him 
thoroughly for his role of Liberator, putting him 
especially through every tense of the new verb in the 
Spanish tongue, carranciar, to steal like a Carran- 
cista. As to such, however, it has been said since a 
century that it is impossible to have liberty in Spanish 
America as long as there are Liberators. These last 
seven lean Mexican years have amply proven it. 

When the "Nation's" interviewer, sitting in a 
spacious room of the Palace with the First Chief 
(who had previously given him a "firm hand-clasp, 
and a pleasant smile," doubtless also waving his be- 
nign white beard at him), chirped blithely that he 



290 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"would be glad to know what may be expected in the 
way of irrigation and scientific land-culture as a 
result of the impetus J given wider pour directioYijhy the 
Department of Agriculture" — the italics are mine — 
the joke was on the 85 per cent, there still was not the 
ghost of a smile on the "Nation's" face, though it loves 
this special 85 per cent. Now it is known that one of 
the results of the impetus given under Carranza's 
direction was the stripping of the Federal Depart- 
ments of furniture, books, scientific instruments, 
records, tapestries, typewriters (animate and inani- 
mate), and that of the School of Mines and the 
Department of Agriculture, he left but the walls. 
Neither is what happened to the crops themselves a 
secret as a "result of this impetus," 

But if, according to the propagandists, the sit- 
uation was so satisfactory, why did so many Mexicans 
die daily of starvation and disease, to say nothing of 
bullets? And why could not the First Chief get a 
penny's loan from any foreign nation on the face of 
the earth? 

Another attractive but cozening cry of the Constitu- 
tionalists was that raised about the education of the 
masses, even in the jolly Pre-constitutional days when 
the constitution performed any acrobatic feat de- 
manded of it by its owners and exhibitors. It could 
stand on its head, it could swing by its teeth, and its 
sleight-of-hand tricks have never been surpassed any- 
where or at any time. It was further adorned with 
the ring of Gyges. 

But to return to the matter of dissemination of 
knowledge " under the Constitutionalists: The cap- 
tion of "a revised system of education, from the 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 291 

common free schools all over the republic to the 
national university at the Capital," was what was 
presented to the American public; and they took 
it in — not all of them, but enough of them. How- 
ever, one of Mexico City's own newspapers said: 
"116,311 children of school age in the Federal 
District (Mexico City and suburbs) are receiving 
no instruction at all. This figure, which is all the 
more significant and discouraging in that it relates 
to a section which is usually considered the most 
cultured of the Republic, has been taken from the 
statistical data just published by the Bureau of 
Education. There being about a million people in 
the Federal District, there should be about 200,000 
children at school. . . . The school census taken at 
the beginning of the present year (1918), which was 
unquestionably deficient in several respects, shows 
an enrollment of 89,689 children who are receiving 
no education at all. These figures, which offer much 
food for thought, bring out strikingly the lack of 
education as compared to former years." This is 
what appeared after the statement had been seen 
by the censor. 

It is also a fact that Carranza, of naturally 
sluggish and unreacting temperament where educa- 
tional progress was concerned, was the only governor 
who opposed the establishment of schools under the 
auspices of the Federal Government, when Madero, 
in the execution of a law initiated in the time of 
Diaz, was tidying to further elementary instruction. 

It appears that in spite of the large appropriations 
for education, which stayed on paper just long 
enough to permit of the money being got from wher- 



292 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

ever it was and distributed to the nearest, dearest few 
within the golden ring, the schools, with such rare 
exceptions that they but prove the rule, comprised 
only those kept as national bric-k-brac in the capital 
to show to the incidental foreign investigator. (This 
last had replaced in the natural Carrancista evolution 
the almost extinct species of foreign investor, 
extinct except in the oil regions, where it still 
persists in spite of predatory tribes and govern- 
ment fiats, the lowest forms of biological life being 
notoriously the most persistent. ) The facts are that 
there were thirty-seven fewer schools in the City of 
Mexico alone than there were in 1910 — though the 
city was never so crowded, for everybody goes to 
town now, as it is well to be near the seat of the 
"redemptory rebellion" set in the "crystalline* purity 
of the national ideals." 

But in the meantime realities, the "realiora," as 
Ivanoff calls the eternal absolutes, were that the 
youth of Mexico City slept in her cold, devitalized 
night streets, awakened to drink from her filthy 
gutters, stood about the doors of restaurants, if they 
had strength to get there, hoping for some scraps 
from the tables of the "Liberators." It was quite 
natural that the only ambition of the boys was to 
become Liberators on the plan they saw so success- 
fully pursued, and of the girls to get to know 
a little later (not so much later as in northern 
climes) some of the Liberators. This is what the 
bright, strong ones, boys and girls, saw as the only 
way out of misery. The others, and their name still 
is legion, who are ill and stupid drag out the hungry 
hours of the day and the cold hours of the night till 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 293 

they are "redeemed" in another life, or lost in this. 

Under Porfirio Diaz 11,000 primary schools were 
established (and working), and these many schools 
and the opportunity for education they gave, con- 
tributed to the extraordinary prosperity of Mexico 
during his rule. Now even the past prosperity of 
the countr}^, by some singular clouding of the per- 
ceptions, is held up for anathema and derision. 

The two men who succeeded Diaz, Madero and 
Huerta, also furthered as much as lay in their power 
and situation the development of public instruction. 
The past, "the true fatherland," was near enough 
to fling some of its glory about the uncertain present, 
and there was in both these men, so divergent in 
their qualities and their defects, some understanding 
in one of them, some instinct in the other for the 
glory of that past, and both had desires, unborn 
though they were, for the advancement of Mexico. 
One of these men failed because of his lack of admin- 
istrative qualities, the other because of blank spaces 
in his moral being which singled him out for 
destruction by the virtuous arbiter of the destinies 
of the United States of America and those of Mexico. 

To return once more to the dissemination of 
knowledge under Carranza. To the suffering of 
unfed, unoccupied children must be added that of 
those who in normal times would have taught them. 
They have been condemned to a misery unknown to 
their colleagues in any part of the world, even in 
a world w^here the most important traditionary act, 
that of imparting knowledge to the young, is always 
underpaid. One of the reasons for the depopulation 
of the schools is the fact that in the majority of cases 



294 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

the teachers were not paid at all. They had to choose 
between starvation and the imparting of knowledge 
to starving children, and some other occupation. The 
two million and some pesos of the Congressional 
appropriations for Education could not find their 
way even to a small number of teachers and schools. 
Some hand of some Liberator was always waiting to 
snatch it; for Carranza was feverishly generous in 
recompensing his friends. Never was any tyrant of 
ancient or modern times more ready to enrich his 
upholders than this "everlasting idol of free peoples/' 
as he was called by those he loaded with gifts — they 
could take anything belonging to anybody through- 
out the length and breadth of the land. 

It has been said by a contemporary Mexican of 
trained and brilliant mind, now, of course, in exile, 
concerning the generous habits of the First Chief, 
that: "If one of his friends wins a battle, he gives 
him one, two or three million pesos (paper), a fine 
country house, valued at no less than one million 
(gold), various town residences in the most fashion- 
able quarter of the town, and a hundred women 
chosen from the most beautiful and attractive of the 
Republic. A Convention further expresses its appre- 
ciation of his services by a vote of thanks, a medal, 
a diploma, and a further decree that the victor's 
name be inscribed in letters of gold upon the tablet 
in the Convention Hall." 

Now, this same man, Senor Bulnes, who knows his 
country well, having aided in its glories and been 
witness to its miseries, says further and finally and 
from the safe distance of the green isle of Cuba : "In 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 295 

Mexico to steal is to live. Not to steal is to fall into 
the pit dug for cowards and honest men, the hope of 
stealing being implanted as deeply in the soul of the 
revolutionario as the hope of heaven in that of the 
Christian." 

Though over a hundred and fifty millions from 
taxes came into the hands of the Carranza Govern- 
ment, according to the now known returns of the 
fiscal year of 1918-1919, the government never, even 
in words (which are cheap enough), approached the 
delicate subject of the Foreign debt. Even the shower 
of gold in the oil districts (where the Biblical 
quotation to the effect that "the oil hath languished" 
is not to the point though "the ground hath 
mourned, the corn is wasted and the wine is con- 
founded"), was no incentive to promises. To inter- 
estingly illustrate this special propaganda and 
Article 27 of the new Constitution, why did they 
not array Carranza as Danae and put him in the 
"movies"? The oil wells could have made Jupiter 
look like the proverbial thirty cents. The god in the 
guise of an oil well visiting Carranza in languorous 
Danaesque attitude in the seclusion of the Palace 
(instead of that of the tower of bronze) would, too, 
have brought mythology up to date, and incidentally 
kept interest alive. 

Now as to oil : the quite simple facts in the case are 
that prior to the advent of the foreign oil-devils, the 
Mexicans either completely ignored their petroleum 
fields, or had the oozing, horrid indications fenced off 
so that neither man nor beast, straying, could fall 
into them and lose his life. As far as the Mexicans 



296 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

were concerned, that was all there was to what has 
proved to be the determining factor in 20th Century 
labor. It was known further to a few pious ones of a 
studious turn of mind, that it had been used in primal 
Aztec days to grease the floors of temples. The nation 
made the strange mistake of considering Madero as 
the Messiah. He had, on the contrary, been in their 
midst in the guise of oil, long before Madero was 
begotten. To-day the wealth of Mexico is measured 
by her petroleum; together with what a certain 
syndically-minded "Liberator" has left of the hene- 
quen industry in Yucatan, for of the mines one hears 
little or nothing. Now the only salvation I see, for 
Mexico, "liberty" and "service," brotherly love and 
prayer having been unsuccessful, is oil, and certainly 
some consideration is due those who discovered its 
being and its uses. The oil prophets spent rather a 
long, dry time crjing in the desert. Those timidly 
following them in the delinquent form of investors 
had cause during some years to think that the 
prophets they listened to were false. 

Now the oil companies never pretended to be as 
Csesar's wife. Mexico, to mix the metaphors and the 
sexes, was as a difficult mistress, dark, passionate, 
uncertain and, until they appeared, unknowing of 
her greatest power. They wooed her in the face of 
every difficulty, enhancing her charms with such 
new and splendid gifts that she became the coveted 
of the nations and, after the immemorial manner, a 
source of strife. Then peace came to be the great 
desideratum, the peace at any price so much descried, 
the joys of love being notoriously enhanced by 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 297 

relative quiet — if not complete security. The oil men 
could make Mexico rich, but they found to their 
sorrow that they could not inflict on her the appar- 
ently undesired and undesirable state of peace. They 
did (and are doing), however, whatever is possible 
in the way of paying a high enough price to enough 
"Liberators" and other competitors for her new 
loveliness, to command it intermittently to grace 
their fabled orgies in the oil-fields. 

These devotees of oil sometimes lost their lives and 
frequently all their money. They generally worked 
eighteen hours a day, discovering further that it was 
no virgin El Dorado they had taken to their bosoms. 

Being a liar or a vulture in Mexico is not as uni- 
formly pleasant and profitable as it looks from New 
York or even San Antonio. 

God often chooses strange means to accomplish 
His ends. The oil companies, slippery with iniquity, 
not having an "ideal" to bless themselves or Mexico 
with, and of a natural shamelessness that made them 
cover themselves confidingly but quite insufficiently 
with the breech clout of the New Freedom, a drill in 
one hand, a large bag of backsheesh in the other, yet 
are the saviors of Mexico. 

Nature has a fondness for repairing the ravages 
of man, returning often good for evil, and rarely 
forgetting to reward the ill-doer. Her lack of 
discrimination or even common decency in placing 
under the Carranza government, at a vital moment in 
the w^orld's history, the most valuable spot on the face 
of the earth, thereby enveloping the First Chief's rela- 
tions to Mexico in mystifying cross-lights, or rather 



298 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

becoming half-lights, is almost enough to make one 
lose one's faith in an All-Wise Providence. 

Right under the noses of the predatory tribes (in 
these are included the iniquitous foreign investors, 
the rainbow-colored brigands, and those preyed on; 
i. e., the innocent Mexicans and almost as innocent 
Americans, Frenchmen, Englishmen and Germans) 
she caused an embarrassing number of oil wells to 
spout up, more in fact than can be restrained, for 
the quite exclusive Constitutionalist government. 
Indeed, it is said that in some places the 85 per cent 
are even afraid to plant beans, for at the slightest 
touch of the soil out gushes "el petroleo" and no one 
wants to die for oil. He prefers to live on it. 

But even this w^as not enough. When Nature really 
gets going she is always splendid, sometimes terri.- 
fyingly generous, and, as before pointed out, she 
rarely forgets the wicked. The oil flood not being 
sufficient for the carrying out of her vast ideas, she 
has called attention to a new and at the same time 
old source of splendor. In the mountains, in those 
wondrous, treasure-bearing Cordilleras, fresh veins 
of ore have been discovered, but mostly lying so deep 
that only perfected, but, alas, accursed foreign 
methods can dig them out. It out-Humboldts 
Humboldt and his treasure house, though he might 
have changed his simile of "Mexico being like a 
beggar sitting on a bag of gold," to that of a beggar 
sitting by a stream of oil, had he written in 1918 
instead of 1807. 

In spite of all this Carranza's very gifted Minister 
of Finance used to refer to the money situation 
strangely enough as "muy delicado," never even 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 299 

whispering a word concerning Mexico's foreign obli- 
gations beyond an indication that the right door is 
much further north, above the river in fact. 

Seuor Luis Cabrera has been called the brain 
of the Carranza Government, and his reason 
for all things was the quite simple and uncontro- 
vertible one, "La Revolucion es la Revolucion." 
He began life as an "educator," in plain words a 
schoolmaster, after which he studied law and human 
nature and was, when I met him, among other things, 
attorney for the Tlahualila Cotton Company, then in 
straits about its water, which was wanted by the 
Maderos. We lunched with him at the invitation of 
Mr, James Brown Potter at the restaurant of Chapul- 
tepec, at the foot of the Castle hill, on dazzling, 
diamond-like noon. He is a small man with dark 
hair and mustache, and features rather indef- 
inite, after the Mexican way. But there was 
much life in his eyes, an expression of alertness, 
indicating an immediate (and doubtless protective) 
perception of strategic positions and values. He 
proved later to have a strange, destructive mind, 
together with the Midas touch, but these were not 
apparent at the time, at least not to me. He seemed 
but one of the typical, clever lawyers of exceeding 
"malicia" ^ (without which the species cannot exist) 
produced by Mexico in abundance and sometimes 
called her curse. Long afterwards in New York I 

*This word, probably the earliest learned by a forei^ invester 
from his indigenous attorney, I would like to erplain for those elect 
havinsT no "interests" in Mexico. It means not only "malice, envy 
and all uncharitableness " but also shrewdness, cunning and dissimu- 
lation. There is even a verb "malieiar" most useful and protective, 
that goes with it, meaning among other things to "suspect mali- 
ciously. " 



300 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

asked one of his colleagues, whose name I would 
mention except that it might cost him his house and 
his life, what were the real qualities of Senor 
Cabrera. (It was when he had first begun to supply 
from his own abundant store the deficiencies in the 
First Chief's gray matter.) He answered im- 
mediately : 

"Inteligencia mediana, audacia superior, perver- 
sidad ilimitada" ("Average intelligence, superior 
audacity and limitless perversity"). 

Now the only one of these attributes to whose 
falseness I can testify is the first. I found him bright, 
a good deal brighter than the average, so perhaps the 
other statements are inaccurate too. <iPues quien 
sabe? Though now that I think of it he has since also 
showed his "superior audacity." From one hour to 
another he put Mexico on a gold basis. All the prec- 
edents which obtain in such cases, even guarantees, 
were brushed aside with the masterly gesture. . . . 

He took no note of the dictum of Huerta's god, 
Bonaparte, that it "takes many years and skillful 
ministers to change the financial system of a coun- 
tiy." The only difiiculty was that everything that 
had existed before had to be destroyed. The operation 
was exceedingly painful for about 14,900,000 of the 
population. I understand, however, that those who 
lived through are going to recover. . . . And Senor 
Cabrera himself is as rich as the oft-cited millionaire 
of antiquity. 

There was a hint of the visibly inspired about it 
all, making one think of St. Paul, for somewhat after 
the words of the Apostle, "The corruptible was sowed 
corruptible and it arose incorruptible,'^ 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 301 

Yet the facts are, according to the American 
official auditor of the Carranza government, in the' 
somewhat uninventive position of one under oath, 
that Mexico's debt is 500,000,000 pesos and that a 
safe maximum of her indebtedness in the future is 
550,000,000. 

Figures speak and, as in the megaphonic noise of 
these just quoted, my voice would be unheard, I say 
no more, except that one cannot call it statecraft, 
nor even "Liberty," nor yet "human service." 

As is evident from these last figures I have been 
reading in company, I trust, with a large part of 
the population of the United States, the hearings of 
the "Sub-Committee of the Committee on Foreign 
Relations of the United States Senate." In section 
one, after reading the testimony of a few ants 
crawling about and wondering when something 
would appear that I could see with the naked eye, 
Mr. Doheny, bearing all the predatory marks, that 
is, visioned, acute, bold, industrious, inventive, 
undiscourageable, stepped onto the scene with the 
free and easy stride of the wicked, and I felt as if 
I were hearing of deeds like unto those of the first 
conquerors of Mexico. He, too, came, saw and con- 
quered, not by the sword nor even by fire, and what 
he, and the very few like him did in Mexico, is com- 
parable only to the achievements of the Spaniards to 
whom, up to the era of the foreign investor, Mexico 
owed everything except her loveliness. 

He again unlocked her storehouse, turning the key 
in the fever-ridden, jungle-grown regions of Tampico, 
in which now flourishes the Rose of the World's 
Desire, all the nations of the earth beginning and 



302 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

ending with Mexico having reasons to rejoice. In 
distant lands those that walked now drive, those that 
stood all day at machines, or broke their backs 
shoveling coal, by the gentle pressure of a finger 
release an incalculable motive power, in a world 
where everybody and everything are amove. In Mexico 
itself many that were lean grew fat. When looked 
at with a free eye, the discovery, or theft, develop- 
ment or exploitation (the fact is so splendid that no 
epithet can hurt it) of oil is one of the mightiest 
achievements of man, with the greatest good to the 
greatest number (though some, of course, get more 
than others, there being no such thing as equality). 

The accounts of the tribute paid to Pelaez, the 
native Chief of the oil regions, remind one of the 
tribute paid to the tribes the Conquistadores 
encountered on their march to Anahuac. Like unto 
them the oil companies pay not one, but many tribes. 
There is a slight diiference in methods, for nowadays 
when tribute is to be paid to Pelaez for instance, the 
oil companies receive a document bearing the 
ominous, majestic and once happily little-used 
words : "Eeform, Liberty, Justice, Law." 

Leaving the fields of fancy, a few limpid facts as 
to the recent career of the Stars and Stripes in the 
oil fields may be stated — with charity toward all and 
malice toward none. 

The Carranza government was recognized by the 
American government after which it was, of course, 
very rightly upheld by the American government. It 
even obtained in the United States the arms and 
ammunition which were used in its campaign against 
Pelaez, the rebel master of the oil-fields, and paradox- 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 303 

ically the keeper of order there. Pelaez was com- 
pelled to resort to the familiar "aux armes, citoyens" 
to defend the life and property of himself and neigh- 
bors, also of the oil companies. He received the 
support, which cannot be called platonic, of all shades 
of complexions and opinions. 

The corresponding limpid facts concerning the 
career of the Carranza government in the oil-fields 
are: That the Carrancista generals looted the oil 
camps, stealing provisions and arms, blackmailed the 
companies, took possession of their boats and auto- 
mobiles, held up their paymasters and killed their 
employees. The drillers and pipeline men, unfor- 
tunately for consistency, only felt comfortable 
when in Pelaez' territory. Pelaez exacted tribute 
from the oil companies of from |30,000 to |40,000 
a month, with which to support an army number- 
ing 2000 to 3000 men; doubtless also not forgetting 
himself and his friends and the friends of his friends. 
The oil companies seem to have been willing, 
even eager to pay this anuount in return for 
protection. The fly in the ointment, however, was that 
they were compelled by fickle circumstance to allege 
that they were paying it under duress and because 
of threats by Pelaez to destroy their property, threats 
which, in fact, were never made. (He knew a good 
thing when he saw it. ) The oil companies approached 
the American government on this fictitious and some- 
what unctuous basis, and the American government, 
from its uncomfortable perch on both horns of the 
dilemma, gave its assent to the payment of tribute. 
That the oil companies have long since lost their 



304 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

innocence is scarcely a matter for wonderment, 
though, of course, for regret. 

Some of the pipes transmitting the oil would seem 
to have been run for a time, not only to the sea and 
to railway stations, but to the rather constricted out- 
let of the Palacio in Mexico City, where the First 
Chief and his bright few friends drew it off, unfor- 
tunately, into a bottomless pit. This, however, is but 
a detail. 

In Mexico the influence of natural forces (mostly 
mysterious), rather than those of men, is more 
potent than elsewhere. In spite of the completely 
destructive acts of the most predatory of species, 
Mexico is getting richer every day. Not even the 
Constitutionalists have been able to restrain the 
lavish hand of nature. 

The motive force of the world is to be determined, 
as well as many political destinies, by an element 
found in Mexico in supreme and increasing quantities. 
It confounds all logic as well as all morality. The 
just and the unjust will be impartially exalted. 

If, on the other hand, to uncover the face of the 
earth, revealing undreamed magnificences, to bring 
a fabulous prosperity to its inhabitants, be a crime, 
to build schools and hospitals and model dwellings 
(quite after the manner of the Spanish Friars), to 
cause the land to flow with oil, behind which flow 
milk and honey, to enrich the nations of the earth, 
to change the motive power of the world, if all this 
be a crime, then the oil men are criminals. To one, 
however, who studies with a free mind the significance 
of oil in the modern world, it will not be found to be 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 305 

entirely a record of the unedifying habits of vultures 
and delinquents. 

Of course, Mr. Doheny got rich, and so did his 
companions and many of his enemies, but so also did 
Mexico, and never, never did cause and effect, the 
machinery by which the entire universe, including 
every act of private life, is regulated, more majes- 
tically nor more accurately balance themselves. 



CHAPTER XXV 

The Tampieo Incident — Demand of Huerta That It Be Taken to 
the Hague — Instead Vera Cruz Is Taken — The Fallacy of Ar- 
bitration When It Does Not Endorse the Will of the Strong. 

The Hnerta-Tampico incident, in the light of the 
subsequent Carranza Tampieo and Mazatlan inci- 
dents, appears as a screaming farce. A European 
who was in Tampieo that April of 1914 drew me a 
diagram of the port, the position of the Federal and 
rebel forces, and of the dock in the forbidden military 
zone, approached by a launch from our gunboat in 
the innocent pursuit of petrol. The story is simple 
and even artless. Firing was going on at the time 
between the Federal troops and the Rebels. The 
Marines, with their petty officer, were arrested by 
Colonel Hinajosa, acting under general orders to 
allow no one to approach the dock, and were taken 
to military headquarters. They were almost im- 
mediately released and before the American govern- 
ment could make any demands. General Zaragoza 
had made his apologies to Admiral Mayo. 

But it was the heaven-born opportunity to get rid 
of Huerta, one of those preordained "accidents" by 
which just men as well as fools are confounded, the 
gods having even less regard for the rights of a man 
than have his fellow-men. 

As to the subsequent "serving" of the Mexicans, 
which followed the Tampieo incident, President 

306 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 307 

Wilson stated, and it has, in the echoing halls of time, 
a puerile ring not then apparent, ''We have gone 
down to Mexico to serve mankind. We do not want 
to fight the Mexicans. We want to serve the Mexicans 
if we can, because we know how we would like to be 
free, and how we would like to be served if there were 
friends by ready to serve us." 

In this year of 1920, the Reds, knowing we would 
like to be free, and how we would like to be served, 
are busily engaged in trying to free us and serve us. 
We, however, being strong, respond, to their friendly 
efforts by deporting them as fomentors of disorder, 
overthrowers of our government. The Mexicans were 
weak and could not deport us, so we finally succeeded 
in overthrowing constitutional government in Mex- 
ico. We can but express the pious hope that, with the 
help of God, no foreign nation will ever have a chance 
to serve us to the same extent. 

I do not intend to go into the intricacies of the 
Tampico incident. Anybody can read the official 
reports of the Congressional Committee on Foreign 
Relations — Mr. Buckley's for instance — if he is suffi- 
ciently interested, or "A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico" 
(out of which many things were cut on the Pauline 
principle that "though all things may be true, all 
things are not expedient"). 

I only mention the stupid matter because it led to 
the taking of Vera Cruz in pursuit of the service of 
the Mexicans. Everybody knows all about it. Mr. 
Daniels himself has carefully explained that the 
Huerta-Tampico incident "was different" from all 
other insults to the flag, notably those offered by 
Carranza himself at Tampico and Mazatlan, "in that 



308 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

then the purpose was to force Huerta out of Mexico." 
Huerta said to the American Charg6, when he was 
urging him to give the salutes to the flag : — "This is 
only one more thing, — ^what will it avail if I concede 
the matter? Washington is bent on destroying me." 
Later on hearing of the taking of Vera Cruz 
through the Mexican Sub-Secretary of War, the 
Charge d' Affaires was faced with the delicate task 
of procuring from General Huerta what protec- 
tion might be possible for American life and property. 
He went immediately in search of the President and 
found him sitting in his automobile in the Park of 
Chapultepec surrounded by several members of the 
Cabinet and military officers. Huerta wore an 
austere but not unfriendly expression. The Charge 
greeted him with the words, "Senor Presidente, what 
have you heard from Vera Cruz?" Huerta's look 
darkened as he replied : "Your Government has taken 
the port of Vera Cruz. We thought that you were 
friendly towards Mexicans and would not shed their 
blood and we further depended upon the Treaty of 
1848." The Charge expressed his personal regrets at 
the death of any Mexicans and proceeded to talk to 
him regarding steps to be taken for the immediate 
protection of his nationals. 

Huerta answered that Americans in Mexico were 
his friends and that the Charge could rest assured 
that he would do everything within his power to 
prevent outbreaks, which might lead to their being 
injured. He further said that he did not consider 
that he was at war with the American people, but 
only with their Chief Executive, who bore him a per- 
sonal grudge, adding that he did not desire to go down 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 309 

to history as the President of Mexico under whose 
administration injury and suffering had come to the 
friendly citizens of a neighboring state, with which 
Mexico had been at peace for over 50 years. 

He said that he would instruct the press to make 
no mention of the situation at Vera Cruz in the after- 
noon editions, that he would give the Military Com- 
mander of Mexico City and those of other places with- 
in his control, orders to have troops ready to suppress 
any disturbances. He then gave the Charg6 a note 
to the Governor of the Federal District instructing 
him to confer with him concerning the protection of 
American citizens within his jurisdiction. The Gov- 
ernor agreed that the City should be patrolled that 
night by mounted police and an extra guard was sent 
to the Embassy and to the American Club. No Amer- 
icans at that time were assaulted nor killed within the 
Federal District, nor anywhere in Mexico within the 
territory controlled by General Huerta's Government. 

Any individual crime committed by Huerta, and 
after the manner of autocrats, in pursuit of 
their ends, — he would have stuck at none — would 
have been a thousand times, nay, a hundred 
thousand times less disastrous than the individ- 
ual and collective horrors that the service of 
humanity has entailed on Mexico. That there are 
two moralities, no student of history, or even of ethics, 
will deny, the private morality which concerns the 
individual and his Maker, and the public morality 
which concerns the welfare of the race over which 
a man is called to rule. 

There was a moment when Huerta appeared as the 
Man of Destiny, preordained in his small, soft hand, 



310 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

to preserve the legality of the government of Mexico, 
till one more worthy of esteem should be found. He 
was quite apparently a man such as appears at times 
in a countiy's history to fulfill a certain task, 
whether he be saint or sinner is not of the slightest 
importance to the State or to Destiny. 

If he be devoured by ambition, sustaining himself 
by plots or by arms is also a detail ; the essential is 
that he sustain himself and with himself the State.* 
This is particularly true in Latin-America, where 
once legality destroyed, it is, as we have abundantly 
seen, the devil's own task to reinstate it. With all its 
drawbacks, I believe in the rule of the strong 
(nothing is so disastrous as weakness) ; it is the only 
thing that really works out politically, and its appli- 
cation will not destroy what few (if any) illusions 
the Peace Conference has left me. My only objection 
is to veiling the application with such words as 
human service, rights of small nations {some small 
nations), Freedom (new or old), fraternity, or even 
Democracy, which last has come to have a dull-eyed, 
been-out-all-night look, most unattractive. 

The strong, and quite naturally, have always 
devoured the weak (the only laws one cannot evade 
are Nature's laws), and the history, ancient or 
modern, of every nation that has arisen to greatness 
proves it. To the victors inexorably belong the spoils, 
and they always take them, but the process has lately 
been presented to the public, which is as innocent 
now as in the period of the Eoman wars against the 
Barbarians, or the Barbarian wars against the 

* Napoleon to his brother Joseph : ' ' When it is said of a king that 
he is a good man, the reign is a failure. ' ' 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 311 

Romans, whichever you like, as the "triumph of 
virtue." No right can dream of existing in visible 
shape that is not sustained by might. Lovely and 
eternal truth herself survives but in one way, — by 
exacting the lives of those who serve her. Touch 
her ever so humbly, and one dies the death. 

Yet her service is more alluring than any other, 
the death one dies dearer and more beautiful than 
any life, even as the children of this world rate life 
and beauty. Her rewards are withheld from her 
servants, and those who serve her not, are generously, 
visibly recompensed. Yet she is the greatest of all 
things, and the heart dilates in the straightness of 
life, and the soul burns in its cold at thought of her. 
But only he who giveth his life shall find it, and we 
all, who have honors or riches to sacrifice, resemble 
more or less the young man of scripture who was told 
that to gain the heaven (of truth) he must sell all 
that he had and give it to the poor, and ^'heing rich, 
he was very sad" Again, why should any of us be 
proud? . . . 

Even before the Huerta mess had been boiled down 
to the sediment of the "Tampico insult to the Flag," 
the foreign representatives began to hint about the 
Hague Tribunal. It was so evidently created for just 
such things. The Belgian Minister, astute and really 
desirous of helping clear up an unnecessarily com- 
plicated situation, walked about the Embassy draw- 
ing-room one day as on air, with an Eureka look 
upon his face. The Gennan Minister, less mercurial, 
and not optimistic where things Americo-Mexican 
were concerned, became, for him, almost enthusiastic, 
saying: — "Though nothing will come of it, it ought 



312 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

to be tried." What they said to each other as they 
descended those honeysuckle, geranium-grown Em- 
bassy steps under those dazzling Mexican heavens, 
I have no means of knowing. Later, when the sword 
of Damocles fell, in the guise of the Tampico affair, 
Huerta made a formal offer to submit the matter to 
the Hague, and abide by its decision. Instead, Vera 
Cruz was seized. Now I am quite shamelessly on the 
side of the strong; it is obviously the only side on 
which to be. Seize anything you want, and hold it 
if you can, is the framework of international rela- 
tions. There is at times a little plaster and stucco 
work done, giving amiable and accomplished gentle- 
men of various nationalities a chance to dine together 
in the evening, after they have sat around a green 
table in comfortable armchairs during the day. But 
these mild pleasures are only enjoyed when no one 
of these gentlemen has anything to negotiate that 
awakens national passion, or threatens commercial 
policies. 

After wars, conquerors do not seek justice, nor any 
Kingdom of Righteousness, they want, quite ele- 
mentally, vengeance on the nations they conquer, and 
who have cost them blood and money. Nations have 
always committed predatory acts at certain moments 
of their evolution. Glance at our own history. In the 
last century, when we were still in an almost sacra- 
mental state, the sons and grandsons of the men who 
were inspired visibly by grace to form the Consti- 
tution of the United States, the greatest constructive 
single work in history, took a piece of territory one- 
third the size of their own country from Mexico. 
When the Mexican government, brought to its knees. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 313 

tried among other things to make the stipulation that 
we should not have slavery in Texas when Ave took it 
over, Mr. Twist, the man then doing diplomatic busi- 
ness at the old Mexican stand, replied indignantly 
that he wouldn't even consider submitting such a 
preposterous proposition to the President. — "Autre 
temps," but not "autre moeurs." To-day the phrase 
that we went to war to make the world "safe for 
democracy" or "went to war to end war" in the name 
of justice and right is simply comic, with the deep 
undertone of tragedy that accompanies the hasty 
though implacable decisions of the strong. 

To return to Huerta, If in 1914 we had even con- 
ducted ourselves as we did in the war of 1847 which, 
though General Grant called it an unholy war, ivas 
a war, and after the immemorial manner of wars 
resulted in definite conquest, annexation and respon- 
sibility on the part of the conquerors, we would have 
been acting as the strong have always acted and 
always will act.^ Our "watchful waiting" methods in 
1913 and 1914 unfortunately had all the destructive 
force of war and none of its manifest advantages, not 
even its name. We did not assume full responsibility 
for any part or parts of Mexico, neither did we allow 
her to be responsible for herself. The reasons for the 
subsequent disaster are clear. The Treaty of Guada- 
lupe of 1848 was as scrappy a scrap of paper in its 
small way as was ever seen. Peace, limits, brother- 
hood, arbitration, were its devices. But when more 
than half a century later, a President of Mexico was 
eager to submit the essentially trivial Tampico 

* In the case of these annexations of 1848, one has seen no trace of 
* * irredentism, " which vindicates the act. 



314 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

matter to the Hague, the most peace-loving of com- 
moners, then Secretary of State, brushed aside the 
proposal. It did not suit the purposes of our Presi- 
dent. It also illustrates in its small but perfectly 
luminous way the fallacy of arbitration as a measure 
to peace, when it does not suit the strong;. and we 
might, with advantage to all, bury the League of 
Nations (which is not even a novelty) quickly and 
decently and lay a myrtle wreath upon its tomb, 
rather than keep the corpse unburied, smelling to 
heaven. 

It would seem, furthermore, in the rather bright 
light of subsequent world-history, that all that per- 
sonal passion and national greed will permit of con- 
trol was more than adequately provided for by the 
Hague Tribunal. Why build a bigger Peace Palace 
when the rooms of that we once built found no 
tenants? 

However to return to Huerta. He was an Indian 
from the State of Jalisco, in control of the supreme 
power, and he acted with his usual fidelity to type. 
To demand of him that he be something that he was 
not, of Mexico something that she is not, was quite 
simply to invite the most evitable political disaster 
of modern history. 

From all time autocratic governments have dis- 
posed of their enemies as Huerta was disposed of. A 
dead enemy is more desirable than a live one. 
Machiavelli recommended it, and it has been prac- 
ticed since and was before wdth the minimum of 
inconvenience and the maximum of result. 

Ethical solutions are notoriously irksome in the 
home and in the state. It is easier to punish a child 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 315 

because he has not obeyed some arbitrary or foolish 
command than for his elders to be vigilant and care- 
ful as to the kind of command they give, or once given 
to fit it into an orderly scheme of things. 

So in a weak, neighboring state it is a nuisance to 
find out what is really the matter. Bat them on the 
head, jail them, sell them arms and ammunition and 
buy their loot is easier. 

Being of pure Anglo-Saxon origin, I have cast off 
cant with difficulty. A dozen times a day I find 
myself, even in the curtained alcove of my soul, 
tempted to call things by names so undescriptive of 
them that I know the angels weep. Once on the scent 
of truth, however, it is a pity to stray off. 

I have, besides, in company with a few millions of 
my compatriots, drawn some benefit from the politi- 
cal education received, nearby and far oft', at 
the hands of the chief of my nation. From him I 
learned of the two measures, and how empty a thing 
is idealism : there is simply nothing in it. History is 
a succession of facts, clarified or distorted by the 
man having most power in any situation. If, as in 
the case of the United States, complete and undivided 
power is vested in an individual together with all the 
billions we can dig from, or grow in, or raise on our 
national territory to further increase his might, he 
can prettj" well turn the world upside down or change 
its face. And there was not one out of a hundred 
million who jumped in front of him when he dashed 
off T\n[th the bit between his teeth, upsetting the 
European buggy, and running over the American 
Constitution. As has been aptly said by one of our 
resigning Cabinet ministers, "Everybody is afraid of 



316 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

everybody else," and sometimes instead of crying, 
"What's the mattet with Mexico?" one feels like 
crying, "What's the matter with the United States?" 

But at least let ns look in the eyes, if we can 
without laughing, this practical Joke that the United 
States has played on democracy. There is something 
almost god-like about it. 

One of those so-decried limited (or unlimited) 
monarchies would not make the man looking for 
freedom laugh quite so hard, nor cause him, at 
other times, to shed so many tears. In the case of 
Mexico, Don Porfirio's iron finger pointed to a golden 
age. The exponents of the new order on the other 
hand in "their fierce passion for reconstruction" 
quite simply tore up the railways, flooded the mines, 
blackmailed the iniquitous but necessary oil com- 
panies, sold the crops and the cattle across the border, 
looted the churches and banks, closed the schools and 
hospitals, and saw to it that every woman above the 
age of twelve contributed her mite to the population. 
In administrative circles of 1920 this sketch of the 
New Order may appear somewhat breezy, but not so 
breezy nor nearly so amusing as Mr. Dooley's sketch 
of our benefactions even in the Golden Age, that I 
came across the other day. As the sense of humor 
is the only possession a man cannot be deprived of 
by Government decrees, — his hope in a future life, 
his love of his neighbor, together with all his material 
possessions are easy to. take from him, — so easy that 
it is done every day everywhere, I quote it: 

"What's th' throuble in Mexico?" . . . "Mexico, I learn, is a 
eonsidherable sthrip iv mountain an ' homicide or poly-ticks, extindin ' 
f r 'm our soutliern bordher in th ' gin 'ral shape iv a broken leg. It is 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 317 

bounded on th ' north be th ' Eio Grande river, which is navagable be 
pedesthreens f 'r thousands iv miles f r 'm it 's source an ' be th ' wishes 
iv th' people iv Texas, an' on th' south be more throuble f'r th' 
Monroe docthrine. It's sooil projooces an abundance iv rocks iv s^\ 
sizes an ' it 's climate is iv a sandy complexion. It 's inhabitants range 
in color fr'm dark to darker, an' many iv thim ar're iv ludyan 
exthraction but th' Indyan has not been completely exthracted fr'm 
all iv thira. In recent years large numbers iv th' young men iv th' 
land have become pathriotos, or as they ar're called in Mexico, ban- 
dits, in preparation f'r a poUytickal career, but many iv thim have 
failed on account iv bein' too tender hearted whin ilivated to office. 
Often a succissful Mexican bandit has turned out to be a weak an' 
sintimental sicretary iv th' threasury. 

"Mexicans enjye a republican form iv government, often whin 
away fr'm home. They have a constituchion which can be found in 
th' catalogue in th' national Muzeem, in th' departmint iv humor. 
Th ' prisidint is ilieted be th ' people on 'y he don 't let thim know till 
he informs thim that his predecissor has committed suicide be shootin' 
himself in th' back. They have no throuble with their ex-prisidints 
beyond seein ' that th ' grass is kept cut. In fact, there is no such 
term as " ex-prisidint " in th' language. Th' former exicutive is 
ayether spoken iv as "Th' late prisidint," or "Th' remains" or if 
he survives, he is known as "Th' fugitive fr'm justice." As goon 
as th' new exicutive has claned up th' office he removes th' rilitives 
iv his prcdicissor an' negotyates a loan. Th' Cab 'net takes th' oath 
iv office on Choosday, on Winsday it tates th' cash drawer and on 
Thursday, whin th' prisidint an his term expires simultaneously, it 
takes th' boat f'r Paris, persooed to th' coast be th' incomin' ad- 
ministration, who serenade th' ship with gatlin' guns. Thanks to 
it's nachural aptyehood an' our binivilince, civilization is makin' 
gr 'reat" sthrides in Mexico, sthridin' in wan day an' sthridin' out th' 
next. Although niver admittin' thim to th' fam'ly, we long ago 
adopted thim, an ' we have since bin a kin ' iv a great brother to thim, 
offerin' to fight any wan that intherfered with thim fr'm time to 
time to show thim their place, an' takin' ahnythin' away fr'm thim 
that we wanted. ... ; 

"We flooded their sunny land with th' best flowers iv our civiliza- 
tion, with life insurance agents, an' sewin' macheen canvassers, an' 
Standard He, an ' excursions f r 'm lowav to give thim free lectures on 
th' 'Evils iv th' Bullfight' an' 'Th""' Siesta,' their two ' favorite 
forma iv athletics. In their domestic throubles we presarved a care- 
ful nootrality an' put it on th' shelf in th' panthry. We took no 
sides on'y askin' cash in advance f'r arms an' ammynition an'' in- 
sistin' that both parties shud shoot south whin near th' Eio Grande, 
so as not to disthurb th' Sunday School picnic parties watchin' th' 
rivolution from th' Texas shoores iv that brawlin' torrent. Natru- 
ally they return our affiction f'r them, often unopened. Th' love iv 
this simple people f'r their gr'reat hearted binif actor is such that 
Americans who have lived long in that country get th ' habit iv walk- 
in' backwards out iv all public places so's not to offind them. Th' 
prisidint iv Mexico,^ before th' late prisidint was Gineral Perfurio 
Diaz. He was a wise ol' red man an' he knew that there's nawthin' 
so dangerous as an angry binif actor who feels that he ain't gettin' 



318 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

anny returns on liis invistment. So he was always palite to us, d'ye 
mind, an' he kept us in a good humor be threatinin' his own fellow- 
citizens, as he often called thim, f 'r he was fuU iv fun, worse than 
he threated ours. But he grew old, his inimies were aU dead, an' 
public office held no charm f 'r him. Wan day he sees a man with 
whiskers comin' up th' sthreet with a brass band. 'Who's that?' 
says he, to th' thrusted chief of polls; 'That's th' new prisidint,' 
sez th' faithful subordinate, reachin' f 'r a gun. 'Well, thin,' says 
Gin'ral Diaz, 'I suppose I'll abdicate,' which he did,, out of a 
window, an' is now in Europe laughin' Ms head off ivery time he 
reads a pa-aper. " 



CHAPTER XXVI 

What Brought Huerta to the American Embassy on the Night of the 
22d of April? 

What brought Huerta to the American Embassy 
that night of the 22d of April jail never know, 
nor what the thoughts accompanying him as he 
passed, in his gray sweater and soft hat, through 
those fatal and implacable doors. 

He was a man of much natural hope, and though 
the passports were Ijdng on a table in the private 
room of the Charge d'Affaires, all was not yet con- 
summated. He may still have hoped when there w^as 
nothing more to hope, and combinations, cunning 
and futile, been at "work in his brain. 

But whatever his sins, were they blacker than the 
night that awaited him, I must • remember him as 
he was at that moment, — composed of mien, elevated 
in thought, his heart seemingly ready for what 
Destiny would be pleased to send him. 

He came borne on the flooding of his Fate, and 
doubtless I saw him not as he was, but as he might 
have been. After that the tide began to ebb. 

I look back on that visit and see it elemental in its 
simplicity, with something of tribal habit about it. 

His external errand was direct as life. From all 
time rulers have asked foreign envoys to the wedding 
of a son, bidden the stranger within their gates to 



320 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

the marriage feast, catching them up in the stitch of 
the generations. 

His errand being spoken, the rest was of equal 
simplicity, — ^lif e, death, and fear, and his words dis- 
claimed rancor toward a mightier people and their 
master, — his enemy. 

Outside was the trampling of horses' hoofs, the 
Rural Guard, a hundred strong, surrounded the Em- 
bassy; there was the clanging of arms and staccato 
street sounds. The night was sweet-smelling, — of 
honeysuckle and geranium and heliotrope; a damp- 
ness, unusual at that hour and season, hung in the 
air and distilled doubly the heavy evening scents. 
Calm as his countenance was and few as were his 
weaving, undisturbing gestures, I think Huerta was 
nevertheless invaded by a deep excitement, conscious 
even to pride, of the huge injustice of man and 
fate. And though the dark waters were to swiftly 
bear him into the smaller, less ennobling irrita- 
tions of defeat and ruin, they had not yet done so. 
He was still master of his soul, still united to his 
country's destiny, still stamped with national tragedy. 
He was without fear and in that moment death, as 
were birth and life, was but the "fulfilling of the 
natural law to which we must all submit." His only 
words to me concerning his euemy were : "He has not 
understood" — even as they were to be, at the hidden 
hour of his death, his last words concerning him. . . . 

It is no small thing to have seen the ruler of 
a people at the flooding of his fate and theirs, even 
though its waters were the dark waters of despair. 

And those two pale Aryan silhouettes, my husband 
and myself, what, in that hour and to that Indian 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 321 

standing by that life flood, could we have symbolized 
but the unassailable fact that the weak have no 
rights when they cross the will of the strong? ^ 

* " At half past seven an officer appeared in the drawing room, as 
von Hintze and I were sitting there alone, saying that the Presi- 
dent was outside. Von Hintze departed through the dining room, 
after hastily helping me and McKenna to remove the tea-table. 
There was no time to ring for servants. I went to the door and 
waited on the honeysuckle and geranium-scented veranda while the 
tearless old Indian,- not in his top-hat {'que da m-as dignidad'), but 
in his gray sweater and soft hat, more suitable to events, came 
quickly up the steps. It was his first and last visit to the Embassy 
during our incumbency. 

' ' I led him into the drawing room where, to the accompaniment 
of stamping hoofs outside, of clanging arms, and footsteps coming 
and going, we had a strange and moving conversation. I could 
not, for my country's sake, speak the endless regret that was in 
my heart for the official part we had been obliged to play in the 
hateful drama enacted by us to his country's undoing. He greeted 
me calmly. 

" Senora, how do you do? I fear you have had many annoy- 
ances. ' 

"Then he sat back, quietly, in a big armchair, impersonal and 
inscrutable. I answered as easily as I could that the times were dif- 
ficult for all, but that we were most appreciative of what he had 
done for our personal safety, and that of our nationals, and asked 
him if there was nothing we could do for him. He gave me a long, 
piercing look, and after a pause, answered: 

" 'Nothing, Senora. All that is done I must do myself. The mo- 
ment has not come for me to go. Nothing but death could remove 
me now.' 

* ' I felt the tears come hot to my eyes, as I answered — taking refuge 
in generalities in that difficult moment — 'Death is not so terrible 
a thing.' 

' ' He answered again, very quietly, ' It is the natural law, to which 
we must all submit. We were born into the world according to 
the natural law, and must depart according to it — that is all.' 

"He has wavy, interlacing, but not disturbing gestures as he 
speaks. He went on to say that he had come, in his name and 
that of his senora, to ask N. and myself to attend the wedding of 
his son, Victor, the next day. And notwithstanding much advice to 
the contrary by timid ones, we think it expedient to go. The safety 
of all hangs on his good-will, and it will be wise, as well as decent, 
to offer him this last public attention. Just then Nelson came in. ' ' 
After greeting the President, he said, rather hastily, 'They have 
taken the arms away.' 

' ' Huerta answered with a gesture of indifference, * It must be, ' 
adding 'no le hace' ('it doesn't matter'). 

' ' I told him with a smile, which he quite understood, that it 
wasn't much in the way of an exchange. (As we had taken seven- 
teen million rounds of ammunition, and God knows how many guns 



322 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

and rifles in Vera Cruz, his haul at the Embassy did seem rather 
small!) He does not want us to go out by Guadalajara and 
Manzanillo, and, unless compelled to cut the line, he gives us his 
train to-morrow night to Vera Cruz, with a full escort, including 
three officers of high rank. 

" 'I would go myself,' he said, 'but I cannot leave. I hope to 
send my son in my place, if he returns from the north, as I expect.' 

"I was dreadfully keyed up, as you can imagine; I felt the 
tears gush to my eyes. He seemed to think it was fear that moved 
me, for he told me not to be anxious. I said, 'I am not weeping for 
myself, but for the tragedy of life.' 

"And, indeed, since seeing him I have been in a sea of sad- 
ness, personal and impersonal — impersonal because of the crush- 
ing destiny that can overtake a strong man and a country, and 
personal, because this many-colored vibrant Mexican experience of 
mine is drawing to a close. Nothing can ever resemble it. 

"As we three stood together he uttered, very quietly, his last 
word: 

" *I hold no rancor toward the American people, nor toward 
su Exeelencia el Senor Presidente Wilson. And, after a slight 
pause, he added, ' He has not understood. ' . . . " 

— "J. Diplomat's Wife vn> Mexico" 



CHAPTER XXVII 

Ancient History, Including the Niagara Falls Conference — The Days 
When Villa's Star Was High — The Carranza Mask — The Clever 
and Amiable "A, B. C. 's are Asked Into The Administrative 
Dressing-rooms When the Actors Are Making-up. 

Before the appointment of the delegates of the 
Huerta government to the Niagara Falls Conference, 
an eye-witness tells me that Huerta entered into a 
strange, subjective state. 

The impasse in his fate was complete. He still 
had patience and there was an accretion of the 
natural stoicism of the primitive Indian, but he had 
little hope. He was paralyzed by inaction and made 
nervous and "jumpy" by the way the light-hearted, 
thoughtless boys at Washington continued to prod 
him in his cage. His eyes, too, were troubling him. 

The invitation of Argentina, Brazil and Chili 
caused hope to revive. It was an improbably possible 
issue, and he was of a generation still innocent con- 
cerning Peace Conferences. After some inevitable 
cross-purpose workings between himself and his 
cabinet, three men of standing were appointed to 
represent Mexico in Washington, Senor Don Emilio 
Rabasa, Seiior Don Luis Elguero, Senor Don Agustin 
Rodriguez. Emilio Rabasa, tall, dark, thin, dis- 
illusioned, is a historian and jurist of international 
reputation, and was many years in the Senate, where 
he represented in a scholarly and enlightened way 
the interests of his country. Luis Elguero had never 
held public office. Though of the land-owning class, 

323 



324 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

he was patriotic, cultured, and on Ms estates con- 
tinued a system of paternalism that had brought the 
usual amount of happiness, and furthermore a max- 
imum of security, to those who served him. 

Sefior Don Agustin Rodriguez I do not know 
personally. He is a gifted jurist, and no word has 
ever been spoken against his probity.^ These three 
men were, in their country, and after their way, the 
corresponding type of men that the British Govern- 
ment, the wisest and most powerful that exists, is 
wont to select for important missions. Neither they 
nor their fathers before them had been "revolucion- 
arios," probably not even "uplifters." They had lived 
in the world of visible traditions and responsibilities, 
once considered worthy of respect. They had never 
murdered individuals, nor robbed haciendas, nor pil- 
laged the State. They inhabited good houses, adorned 
with works of art and furnished with libraries. Fur- 
thermore, they were conversant with the past history 
of their country, and familiar with present actualities. 
The worst that can be said about them is that they 
were upper-class men. 

After their departure, Huerta, though very rest- 
less, continually smoking small, black cigarettes, and 

*A spectrum-colored book could be written on the subject of the 
practise of the law in Latin-America. 

The licenciado, as the lawyer is called, though of a profession which 
flourishes greenly in all countries, has reached certain typal perfec- 
tions there, which, however, being climatic and racial, are not to be 
judged according to the latitude and longitude of Washington. Hum- 
boldt, of whom it has been said that he was the only man who ever 
noted realities concerning Mexico, said: — "Latin-America is one vast 
law-suit, from Monterey to Buenos Ayres. " There was a time when 
enlightened Viceroys begged that no more men of law be sent out from 
the Mother Country, and to-day these men, with less responsibility 
than the administrative classes, much more learning than the lower 
classes, and often gifted by Nature as well, find themselves in a posi- 
tion of determining influence. 



VICTOKIANO HUERTA 325 

stopping often at the Caf6 Colon, and El Globo for a 
"copita," entered again into a period of hope. Some- 
thing was being done. It seemed a heaven-sent oppor- 
tunity for the American Government to learn some- 
thing about the ethnological, ethnographical, climat- 
ical, economic, political phenomena of that Terra 
Ignota lying to the south. It was the first chance 
Huerta had had to send a high-class group to present 
the case of Mexico to Washington. He and they were 
willing to do anything, to make any concession, that 
was consistent with the continued independence of 
Mexico. It was another occasion when men of good 
will could have given peace to Mexico. 

The whole was complicated by the somewhat hasty 
invitation to Carranza to be represented at the con- 
ference and his equally hasty refusal. But there is 
nothing perfect, even in Washington. 

Before leaving Mexico, the astute gentlemen com- 
posing the Huerta delegation, foreseeing that the 
Internal situation, summed up in the "Huerta must 
go" policy, was what really interested Washington, 
and that whatever else might be demanded, Huerta's 
175 pounds of flesh (or whatever it was) would be 
exacted, got the promise from de la Lama, his clever 
Minister of Finance and his closest adviser, that 
he would resign on the nomination of a neutral can- 
didate. Even more important than the resignation of 
one man, however, was what was going to happen to 
15,000,000 human beings, at the mercy of a wrathful, 
foreign god. 

Villa's star was still high over Washington, but 
another was rising higher, that bright and evening 
star, Venustiano Carranza. It put into sharp relief 



326 INTIMATE PAGES OP MEXICAN HISTORY 

the blackness of the heavens wherein had been written 
our promise to Huerta to appoint, on his resignation, 
a neutral government. Continuing in the light- 
hearted way, before mentioned, of marauding boys, 
"cet age est sans pitie," we took no account of the 
promise we made to these duly accredited envoys of 
the Huerta government. Even Mr. Bryan is recorded 
as saying apropos of the matter: — "When you can't 
keep a promise, you can't, and that is all there is 
to it." It is indeed all there is to it, as we have since 
seen, both in war and in peace. It was simply the 
age-seasoned manner of solving situations between 
the weak and the strong, and then, as now: — "la 
raison du plus fort est ton jours la meilleure." 

There seems to have been no idea at any time of 
appointing a neutral president. It was Carranza, 
provisional and permanent President, though Car- 
ranza's continuous and final attitude to Washington 
can be summed up in the old saw: — "A wife, a dog 
and a hickory tree, the more you beat them, the 
better they be." This method he pursued with com- 
plete success. 

A word here concerning what I call the "Carranza 
mask," one of the strangest appearances in the 
strange history of Mexico. It is nature's cruel joke 
on the land of the cactus and, one might add, on a 
regrettable number of Americans, dead and alive. 

Huerta's face was dark, flat, cruel, crafty, strong, 
relentless, and he had a sense of humor, revealed in 
easy gesture and a sudden brightening up of expres- 
sion, that sometimes unexpectedly determined sit- 
uations. Carranza's visage was saintly. All are 
familiar with it. Benignity breathed from every line. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 327 

Could an evil, self-seeking thought find harbor in a 
soul whose light shone so brightly through the win- 
dows of those kind, blue-spectacled eyes? That pa- 
tient listening ear, — could it ever have taken in the 
word "politics," still less "graft"? Could not the 
widow and the orphan have confided their all to him? 
Would not his word have been better than any other 
man's bond? 

Could this excellent gentleman have cleaned up a 
town other than with a street sweeper? 

Would he have hui't a fly? Much less would he have 
had the head of General Blanquet severed from its 
body and exposed on a pike in Vera Cruz. Does he 
bear any resemblance to Herodias? 

That noble stretch of forehead seemed destined for 
the home of philosophy, in company with philan- 
thropy. Would one have said that the space behind 
when tapped gave back a hollow sound? That Don 
Luis Cabrera did his thinking? 

He looks, too, naturally voluble. It is recorded, 
however, that for years his voice was never 
raised in the Chamber of Deputies. When at last he 
broke his golden silence, it was in the copper of such 
words as "if our Constitution forbids us to confiscate, 
then for a space we will do without our Consti- 
tution." 

He was, too, made in the large ranchero mold, 
towering above his compatriots. Would one say that 
he could climb a balcony with the gayest of 
Lotharios? Yet, oh yet, if spotless Washington but 
knew. 

In his face and attitude was a general expression 
of "Suffer little ones to come unto me, together with 



328 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

the heavy laden." Would you think that he had 
relieved a large portion of the inhabitants of Mexico 
of the burden of their earthly goods? He sits with 
serenity, unacquisitively, slightly leaning back. 
Could one dream that he was rapacious, tireless? 
There is absolutely nothing of avidity about his 
posture ; it rather suggests renunciation, refusal : — 
^^I take a ^gratificacion' for myself or the State? 
Never !" 

Yet no one at the head of any government was 
ever gifted with such a genius for confiscation. "The 
greatest amount for the fewest number" has been 
the motto of Mexico ever since Carranza realized to 
his wonder and delight that he had found favor in the 
sight of the administration above the Eio Grande. 

Somewhat as Esther before King Ashuarus, that 
long-bearded old Constitutionalista was found fair, 
so fair that he could scarcely believe it, untU it was 
proven to him by those first warm embraces of a 
bewitched administration, over which for a time a 
chaste veil was drawn. But now the dream is 
dreamed, the somewhat troubled night is over, a cold, 
gray dawn has broken and we have to arise and do dis- 
tasteful things, such as betraying old loves and 
giving witness that "Might is Right," and that the 
devil does get the hindmost. 

Since 1913 I have got rid of all my politico- 
sentimental impedimenta, and certainly I have seen 
nothing since the raising of the embargo on arms 
and ammunitions in favor of Villa (February 3, 
1913) against a government duly installed, to the 
signing of the so-called Peace Treaty (June 28, 
1919) bearing under its heart the seed of fifty wars. 



VICTORIAKO HUERTA 329 

to cause me to restock myself. The garments simply 
are not cut so that one could be seen out in them. If 
I am to live in a world of illusions, I would prefer 
to stay at home, clad in some made-over things of my 
grandmother's. Those old poke bonnets that she and 
her generation put on when the sun of reality got a 
bit hot in the garden of ideals were not unbecoming, 
and those scarfs were charming that they twisted 
about their shoulders when they walked in the twilight 
talking of altruism and humanity (which were still 
good-form words), plucking mignonette and helio- 
trope, and somebody would quote from Emerson. 

Those were good days when many really believed 
that "every secret is told" (it was not at all like the 
tongue-in-the-cheek, open Covenants, openly arrived 
at), that "every crime is punished, every wrong 
redressed in silence and certainty." The good gentle- 
man was even able to "put it over" two generations 
when he stated that "justice is not postponed." 

In my early girlhood I kept a copy of the "Essay 
on Compensation" (large print,, wide margins, soft 
green binding) under my pillow, convinced that it 
was the Key to Life, temporal and eternal. This was 
not due to extreme youth, because its dicta were 
accepted along with numberless analogous things in 
child-like faith by a great nation, except perhaps by a 
few political bosses and kings of industry, but they 
were careful not to tell all they knew. Why, good 
God, the only things that invariably bring their 
punishment, and without postponement, are our 
virtuous acts. 

Yet hath my soul seen other things than those 



330 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

taught by riders of States and even New England 
poets : The true "Visio Pacis," swelling the hearts of 
the elect to bursting; holy enthusiasm, scorching the 
souls of martyrs; the blessed lamp of sacrifice burn- 
ing in the dark window of events. Death and love 
alone are not postponed. . . . 

To return to our Mexican muttons. In June, 1914, 
Villa, the "military genius," acting true to type, when 
Ms many differences with Carranza had been, appar- 
ently, patched up, suddenly (or slowly) revolted 
quite openly against his civilian chief, after which 
the convention of Aguascalientes was convoked (in 
Villista territory) and the candidate of Villa, Eulalio 
Gutierrez, was named President. Eulalio Gutier- 
rez' real use in the Mexican political cuisine was to 
keep the lid from rising off the boiling water till Villa 
could see his way to holding it down himself. History 
records a great deal of kissing on this solemn occasion 
of the Convention, unlimited "abrazos" were ex- 
changed, each one imprinting a further special kiss 
on the green and white and red flag of the Three 
Guarantees. When these colors were chosen in 1823 
they were meant to symbolize in red, the union of 
Mexicans and Spaniards in the bonds of brotherly 
love, in white, religious purity, and green was for 
independence. One of the usual Mexican bric-a-brac 
collectors present at conferences is said to have 
stolen this much bekissed symbol for his private 
museum. 

To return to Villa's star. For reasons that I can- 
not yet understand, Washington received its rays 
gratefully, admiringly. "Though a Roman Catholic, 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 331 

Villa neither smoked nor drank." * He "was a safe 
man to tie to." ^ He was an "idealist." * . . . 

General Scott was empowered to give him full 
military honors on various occasions, notably at the 
famous meeting when American met Mexican on the 
bridge over the Rio Grande. At a delicate m'bment 
he was empowered to gently upbraid him for his 
indiscreet looting of Chihuahua, Villa having not yet 
understood, probably had not been able to take in, 
the measure of the indulgent love felt for him by 
Washington. When it was whispered to him that he 
was loved unto death (even unto the death of Amer- 
icans), and that he was the nearest man to the Presi- 
dential Chair at that moment, he is reported to have 
dashed back to Chihuahua, and had tliose of his fol- 
lowers executed who had carried out his rash and 
ill-timed orders. 

All these days the tongue was in the cheek 
of the A. B. C.'s. It must have been great 
fun; neither they nor the United States stood to 
lose a penu}^ or their lives. It was to the shrewd and 
able Latin-Americans an advanced course in North- 
American procedure, and cheap, very cheap. As a 
sichool for statesmen, nothing has been seen like 
it, except the Paris Peace Conference, where, for the 
education of the two men forming the omnipotent 
Anglo-Saxon Dium^irate, in the elementals of geog- 
raphy, ethnology, ethnography, to say nothing of 
language, vivisection was, by way of easy illustra- 
tion, practiced on a large part of Europe. The 
A. B. C. Conference was less costly. Its clever and 
amiable members doubtless without batting an eye- 

*Mrs. W. J, Bryan. 'President Wilson. 'W. J. Bryan. 



332 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

lash, even at one another, found they were to be asked 
to go behind the scenes, even into the dressing rooms 
of the actors, where they could see how every effect 
was prepared, how every juggle was made. Their 
reports to their governments on Washington's pro- 
cedure must have been epoch-making, and will be 
useful in twenty-five or a hundred years, when, 
according to inevitable mathematical progression, the 
importance of South America in the decisions of the 
Western Hemisphere will be fully evident. 

As all the world knows, the extremely simple 
results of the Conference were that the Huerta dele- 
gates left Niagara Falls, and Huerta left Mexico. 
The Washington scene-shifters then threw the light of 
the afore-mentioned bright and evening star over the 
stage. After that came the World War and we paid 
little or no attention to what we had done in Mexico. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

The Prefideuti&l Kaleid«o«cop« from Hutrta to Garranza. 

I 

FRANCISCO S. CAEVAJAL 

Fate, not completely unmindful as to the needs of 
the "85 per cent" allowed to succeed Huerta, for the 
short space of 42 days, a man honorable among men 
where all were not, alas, "honorable, honorable men." 
This was Licentiate Francisco S. Carvajal, Judge of 
the Federal Supreme Court, and wiiose name I first 
heard when he was made Representative of the Diaz 
government at the Ciudad Juarez Convention, May 
21, 1911. Since then he had, as far as the momentum 
of circumstances permitted, maintained an inde- 
pendent attitude towards the various factions. The 
same momentum, however, at last pressed him to the 
top. He realized soon the impossibility of holding 
out against the policy of the United States, breaking 
out always in the most unforeseeable ways and the 
most unexpected places (the constitutionalists, on 
the other hand, breaking out exactly where they were 
expected). Having, too, a decent solicitude for the 
protection of Mexico City as well as the other pop- 
ulous portions of the Republic from the unparalleled 
excesses which w^ere characterizing the Constitutional 
army, Carvajal decided to invite Carranza to take a 

333 



834 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

pacific possession of the Republic in general and the 
City of Mexico in particular. To this end he sent 
General Lauro Villar (a former Maderista General) 
to parley with the First Chief. 

But this "universal heir of the granite-like soul of 
the sublime Juarez" proved implacable. He insisted 
on the unconditional surrender of the government, 
without, however, giving any guarantees himself 
where that much besmirched goddess, the Mexican 
Constitution, was concerned. Carvajal, it is told me 
by one who knew his short incumbency from within, 
thought at one time of resisting Carranza, rather 
than deliver over to him without guarantee the sacred 
person of the Constitution. He still had at his dis- 
position various contingents of the Federal Army, 
and could have counted also on the sympathy of the 
"85 per cent," each day visibly less enamoured of 
Freedom. 

At this fatal moment, doubtless decreed from all 
time for the expiation of Mexico's sins, rather than 
the uplift of the submerged, he received official 
notice that the American government demanded his 
unconditional surrender to Carranza. Not being a 
madman, nor even a "unique zoological specimen," 
Carvajal saw that resistance would be useless. He 
was obliged to abandon the city and the Carrancistas 
entered. 

The Carvajal Provisional Presidency was one of 
the children of the A. B. C. Conference and was born 
at Niagara Falls. It was almost the only one (and 
there were many) that lived long enough to draw a 
breath, and even it was not sure about its father. 

It seems unnecessary to go into details as to what 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 335 

happened when the tribe chosen by Washington, 
rather than by God, entered the City of Mexico. It 
was then that the jolly "Pre-constitutional" period 
was really inaugurated and the demise and burial 
of the Constitution became an accomplished fact. 
With the Constitution, side by side in the same grave, 
after its annihilation, which was almost immediate, 
lay the legislative bodies, those of the courts, the 
social and religious life of Mexico and of the country's 
financial and credit system. The ruin was complete. 
Not only Huerta had "gone," but for the time being 
everything else in Mexico except its geographical 
position, above which the heads of what is still left 
of the submerged 85 per cent can at times be seen 
swimming around in the oil. It reminds one of 
pictures of the flood in family Bibles. 

n 

EULALIO GUTIERREZ 

December 13, 1914, to January 29, 1915. 

Eulalio Gutierrez first came to the attention of 
the upper few as a dynamiter of bold and inventive 
capacities. In lower circles he had been known as a 
hanger-on at an American mining plant, doing in a 
dense and heavy way the least amount of work 
compatible with his presence on pay-day. From this 
somewhat obscure, even protoplasmic condition, he 
evolved rather quickly into the more complex 
organism of a Carrancista General, his next recorded 
organic change taking place when, according to 
Mexican laws of evolution, his species began to 



336 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOEY 

differentiate itself from other types of Constitution- 
alists. His final mutation was into the Chief Execu- 
tive of the Mexican nation, in connection with the 
Presidency of that short-lived body, the Aguascalien- 
tes Convention, — while waiting for Villa to mutate 
in the same way. 

He was a broad-shouldered, bull-necked, heavy- 
paunched, small-headed man, with very long, hanging 
arms and a dark and terrible eye. He moved heavily, 
but was expansive both as to wine and women. He 
dwelt in a fine house in the Paseo de la Reforma, 
confiscated for the purpose. 

Among reforms proposed by him was thib use of 
the Guillotine rather than the firing-squad, the waste 
of ammunition on individuals having got to be 
excessive. 

The dark chronicles of his rule tell of mysterious 
disappearances, sudden stifled cries in the streets at 
night, volleys towards dawn; and "get out that I 
may get in" was the order of the day. 

The Sovereign Convention clipped no wings. 
Article four expressly and at the same time broadly 
stated, that the Chief Executive could only be put 
out if he decided any measure of high political im- 
portance without letting the others know. It was a 
sort of super-constitution. "Liberty, Justice and 
Progress" was the banner-cry. 

On January 29, 1915, Eulalio Gutierrez aban- 
doned Mexico City, Villa being then in sight of it. 
He was accompanied by his general, Lucio Blanco, 
young, pale, smartly dressed, uninterruptedly 
amorous, and ten millions from the National 
treasury. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 337 

in 

GENERAL ROQUE GONSALEZ GARZA 

January 30, 1915, to May 30, 1915. 

The story of this President of Mexico reads some- 
what as a fairy tale. He is remembered grate- 
fully alike by Mexicans and foreigners in Mex- 
ico City. He was once in the Villista ranks. His 
mutation from a Villista general into the Chief 
Executive came about through a union of Villistas 
and Zapatistas against Carrancistas. On his arrival 
at the Presidency at the age of thirty -^ve (Fate 
having caught him young if not innocent) he dis- 
covered that his political parents, who were also his 
military subordinates, were insisting on exercising 
their time-hallowed rights to destroy life and prop- 
erty. Furthermore in the Convention then being held 
in the Capital, a group of Bolshevist theorists, led 
by Soto y Gama, were busily engaged in weaving a 
neat but gaudy program to confiscate property, 
take over all public utilities and establish a socialist 
state. Roque Gonzalez Garza, with a courage that 
only those who resided in the city at the time can 
appreciate, curbed for a while the activities of both 
the army and of the Convention. He even went so 
far as to espouse the cause of the people of Mexico. 
His unpopularity with his party increased, of 
course, in direct ratio as he showed an interest in the 
welfare of the people in general and the inhabitants 
of Mexico City in particular. 

The Convention tried to depose him. He was 



338 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

threatened with assassination, and was even attacked 
by a Zapatista general and two hundred or three 
hundred followers, in the early hours of a spring 
morning, at the Sanz Hotel where he incautiously 
resided. He was not killed and is now enjoying the 
rewards of Mexican virtue, exile and poverty, in San 
Antonio. 

In spite of his integrity, his courage enabled him 
to continue to dominate the situation for several 
months. The times were not propitious, however, for 
such a man, and to the regret of the inhabitants of 
Mexico City, he was finally obliged to wing a hasty 
flight from his high position. 

I give but one incident of his administration, 
demonstrating his complete unsuitability for office. 

The Zapatistas on entering Mexico City had mur- 
dered an American by the name of MacManus, who 
owned a real dairy (not a powder factory) and having 
cows that gave milk, on the outskirts of Mexico 
City. Gonzalez Garza unwisely investigated the mat- 
ter, with the result that he awarded the widow 
100,000 pesos, the equivalent at that time of |20,000 
American money, and saw that it was paid to her 
out of the Treasury. 

This is the only case of reparation having been 
made for the murder of an American during the 
Revolution. Exit, on the run, of Roque Gonzales 
Garza. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 339 

IT 
LICENTIATE FRANCISCO LAGOS CHAZARO 

July 31, 1915, to October, 1915. 

Licentiate Francisco Lagos Chazaro sncceeded 
him, having been decreed President of Mexico by the 
"Sovereign Revolutionary Convention." He was from 
the State of Vera Cruz. A compatriot says of him 
that he was "muy vivo" (very lively, or very cute, 
as you take the word classically or colloquially), 
with a bright eye^ using many gestures, and the 
words "Libertad" and "La constitucion" were often 
on his lips. I leave the reader to fill up the gaps in 
delineation. 

These three gentlemen, however, were but chance 
beads on the long thread the Gray Sisters were 
busily spinning, for from August 20, 1914, Venu- 
stiano Carranza, First Chief of the Constitution- 
alist Army, was in charge of the full and com- 
plete executive powers. The sequence of events alone 
demanded that they make an appearance till it was 
quite safe for the First Chief to come to Mexico City. 

But the links in the chain are Incomplete unless 
we go back to the fateful date of March 26, 1913. 
Since that day Carranza and his friends had lived 
by the light of the Plan of Guadalupe, the light of 
which lamp, however, would not long have shone be- 
fore them, had it not been kept trimmed and burning 
by the super-flumine "Champion of Constitutional 
Government on this continent." 

It begins thus: 



340 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"I, Venustiano Carranza, have seen fit to decree 
the following (there are seven articles but the first 
is so inclusive, as well as exclusive, that it is the 
only one we need quote) : 'The plan of Guadalupe 
of March 26, 1913, shall subsist until the complete 
triumph of the revolution and, therefore, Citizen 
Venustiano Carranza shall continue in his post as 
First Chief of the Constitutionalist revolution and as 
depository of the ewecutive power of the nation, 
until the enemy is overpowered and peace is 
restored.' " It is extremely elastic, except that phrase 
which made him the depository of all the powers 
though, alas, not of all the virtues of Mexico. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

Huerta's Imprisonment — His Pinal "Going." 

I 

The story of Huerta after he had been an'ested in 
attempting to enter Mexico to head a revolution 
against Carranza, and charged with breaking the 
neutrality laws, runs as follows, and is brief and 
bald and terrible as Destiny in her most careless 
moments. 

It was on the afternoon of a sultry July day in 
the Federal Court room in El Paso that Mr. Tom 
Lea, his attorney, first saw the "silent old warrior," 
as he calls him, advancing with outstretched hand, 
courteous manner and a long searching gaze. 

He had been arrested a few hours before at New- 
man Station, eighteen miles northeast of El Paso on 
the Rock Island Road, as he stepped from the train 
to greet General Pascual Orozco. These two men, 
once victor and vanquished, at last fatalistically to 
involve each other in death, were then arrested, 
together with Huerta's two sons-in-law and General 
Cans, an octogenarian and inocuous son of Mars, and 
thrown into the common jail with men of various 
colors and crimes. A cash bond of |15,000 was made 
for Huerta, $10,000 for Orozco and smaller sums for 
the others, after which General Huerta was tem'- 
porarily released from custody, though kept under 
the strictest sui-veillance by United States officials. 
The next day, however, orders were received from 

341 



342 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Washington for them all to be taken again into cus- 
tody. Orozco escaped shortly after his arrest, forfeit- 
ing his bond. An attempt was made by Huerta's 
attorney to have Huerta freed on a larger bond 
than the first. He was, however, told by the govern- 
ment authorities that Huerta would under no circum- 
stances be released. Habeas Corpus being the only 
remedy available, he was advised of his rights, but 
in that imperious way of his he answered, "Get 
these other men bonds, and they can keep me, for I 
will go when I wish." Probably in his Indian way he 
felt as did Ulysses, when, striking his breast, he 
chided his heart, saying : "Bear this, too ; thou hast 
supported greater things." He did not know it was 
the end. 

A few days afterward he was removed to Fort 
Bliss, seven miles from El Paso, and put into the 
abandoned hospital, — a civilian prisoner, in a mili- 
tary cantonment, with a guard of six civilian secret 
service men, and furthermore under bond. 

His wife and children, his two old Indian sisters 
and other members of his family, came to El Paso 
soon after his arrest. Every day towards evening 
they would go out from the city, with something of 
tribal dignity about them, to visit the captive chief, 
and take him little offerings. Tiiey never saw him, 
however, except in the presence of his jailors. The 
mutual affection and devotion of Huerta and his 
family was most touching. To the usual Mexican 
marks of respect for the head of the family, was an 
added measure of reverence for one so unfortunate 
and so patient, all realizing that "the tbmgs which 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 343 

before his soul would not touch, now, through anguish, 
were his meats." 

Seilora de Iluerta had rented a modest, two-story 
residence on Stanton Street, which is all there is to 
the legend that Huei'ta, his pockets full of money, or 
rather his wife's pockets full of money, had bought, 
among other valuable real estate in El Paso, a large 
apartment building. 

In the meantime, Huei'ta remained in the aban- 
doned hospital; it was cold and damp and meagerly 
furnished. He became ill and was transferred, in 
company with his guards, to one of the small four- 
room cottages originally built for officers. His way 
of life remained unchanged. He took litcle exercise, 
eating scantily of the unaccustomed food, and what- 
ever may have been his "copita" practice in the days 
of his power, it is recorded that during his incarcera- 
tion he drank no brandy nor spirituous liquors of 
any kind — neither did he ask for any. All this time 
he is said to have been the soul of wit and courtesy, 
showing himself well versed in world-politics, deeply 
interested in the Great War in general, and in 
France, the country of Bonaparte, in particular. His 
stoic Indian fatalism was veiy much in evidence, 
though an ironic sense of humor caused him to bewail 
at times that he had been fool enough to let himself 
be taken prisoner. 

Sometimes, in company with his guards, he was 
allowed to go to the army tent of Father Joyce, 
Chaplain of a regiment stationed near. He used to 
call it "the parsonage." On a mesquite stick for a 
pedestal was a little statute given to Father Joyce by 



344 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

Senora de Huerta, — a copy of the Moses of Michael 
Angelo. 

"There," said Huerta, when he first saw it, "is 
something to laugh at. After they put me out of 
Mexico, they came up against anarchy and barbar- 
ism. Here again may be barbarism in Texas. Moses 
in marble with the ten commandments on his lap 
on a mesquite stick in a tent ! Look out, Father, the 
wind may blow, against the tent, the tent may fall 
against Moses and down he may tumble and you will 
be accused, as I was, of breaking the ten command- 
ments all at once." 

He would spend long hours standing on the ver- 
anda of the little Fort Bliss cottage, looking to- 
wards the Mexican horizon, and he talked much of 
"mi pais." Sometimes in speaking of his own and 
Mexico's misfortunes, he would say: "I failed be- 
cause I was obliged to try the impossible. Mexico 
cannot live without the favor of the United States, 
or, at least, without the enjoyment of its indifference. 
I had neither." Often, too, as he stood looking to the 
south, he w^ould paraphrase Lerdo's famous remark, 
saying: "Would that the desert between Mexico and 
the United States had remained a desert — and that 
the friars had never brought donkeys from Spain !" 

At night his pleasure was to watch the stars shin- 
ing above the Southern horizon. He was well versed 
in astronomy, and the great processional of the heav- 
enly bodies, which he would hail by name as the 
seasons brought them into view, seemed to give him 
solace. Often he would get up in the small hours of 
sleepless nights and watch them in silence from the 
narrow veranda. 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 345 

Whatever the impatience ravaging his breast, he 
betrayed little of it, beyond occasionally asking his 
attorney if he were not soon to come up for trial. 

After a few months, however, a great physical 
change was apparent in him. He grew thin, al- 
most emaciated, became very nervous and ill-at-ease, 
starting at the slightest sound. It was doubt- 
less at this time that Iluerta realized with an intui- 
tive realization that permitted no self-deception, that 
he was lost, his power vanished, his cause dead. 
Being thus done with hope, the physical ill that 
might, in other circumstances, have been held in 
clieck, took an unresisted course. The hour of his 
arrival in El Paso had been again the hour of destiny, 
his and his country's ringing loudly in the old 
Indian's ears. They were both caught in that same 
destiny. 

Huerta should have died at Vera Cruz, or even in 
Mexico City. An assassin's arm or a foreign bullet 
would have been equally propitious to his renown. 
But, as in his life events were, untoward, so in his 
death. He was to die as one guilty, before so proven, 
showing how unescapabl^ each accomplishes his des- 
tiny in its intrinsic form to the end. 

The continual presence of his jailors wore on him 
greatly, for he had, like all men of his race, a need 
of solitude. They had become much attached to 
him, and rendered his imprisonment as easy as 
possible, but their orders were never to let him out 
of their sight, day or night. Though he continued to 
joke with them in his few words of broken Eng- 
lish, it was evident that he was failing. His priest 
and his attomev, becoming alarmed, advised the au- 



346 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTOKY 

thorities of his condition and protested at his further 
confinement. For some weeks, however, they could 
get nothing done, and he gradually grew worse, lying 
on his cot the greater part of the time, with his face 
turned to the wall. 

It was tragedy, grim, antique — the vanquished in 
the hands of the victor, and as always — woe, woe to 
him! 

Hope, health, desire to live had finally departed 
from him. We who have seen many men of many 
countries in captivity can picture well the faded 
passion of the look that lay upon his face. 

No man knew better than Huerta that death is 
nothing in itself, "for all submit to the natural law," 
both in their coming and their going, and the manner 
is the same for all, but to live the daily death of the 
vanquished, the unconsidered, and the captive — for 
that he found no fortitude. 

Huerta's attor-ney conferred at last with Judge 
Crawford, then Assistant District Attorney at El 
Paso, telling him that the General was so ill that 
recovery was improbable, that it seemed outrageous 
that he should die in confinement, every failing 
breath waitched by jailors. Judge Crawford accom- 
panied Mr. Lea to Fort Bliss. It was only too evi- 
dent that the old Indian was gi^avely ill. They tele- 
graphed to Judge Camp, the District Attorney at San 
Antonio, and word was received to release General 
Huerta on his personal recognizance. The United 
States Commissioner, the Deputy U. S. District 
Attorney and Huerta's attorney then repaired to 
Fort Bliss and this was taken in a further sum of 
one thousand dollars, after which he was removed to 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 347 

the little house on Stanton Street where his family 
received him. 

It was here that he made his will, leaving his bond, 
which amounted in all to $38,000 and was the only 
thing he possessed, to his wife. This she never re- 
covered, and is living in poverty in Ilavana. Part 
of the bond was claimed b}' counsel, part went to 
bondsmen for the protection of the bonds of Pascual 
Orozco (which was, of course, forfeited), and Fuentes 
and Quiroz, Huerta's sons-in-law, and others. The re- 
mainder was lost in favor of the government of the 
tTnited States. 

It was at this house, too, that Fate was to make 
the most grotesque of all her gestures where Huerta 
was concerned, reminding one of "grand guignol" 
Ijerformances, of penny dreadfuls. It would have 
been even indecorously melodramatic, had it not 
been her way of pointing Huerta from the human 
stage, the always august act, whatever be its form. 

On a bitter January night, a large man with thick, 
black w^hiskers, speaking excellent Spanish, knocked 
late at Huerta's door. He v/as admitted. He told 
Senora de Huerta that he was a physician and a great 
admirer of her gifted and persecuted husband. He 
asked to examine him, after which he stated tliat 
unless an immediate operation was performed, in 
thirty-six hours he would be among the dead. He so 
alarmed both Huerta and his wife that they con- 
sented to the operation that same night. The black- 
whiskered stranger then made two abdominal inci- 
sions, without anesthetics, and furthermore did not 
sew up the wounds; after which he returned to the 
night of mystery from whence he came. Huerta died 



348 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

three days after the fantastic and fatal occur- 
rence. . . . 

So much for his body. The disposition of his soul, 
too, belongs to history. 

During his captivity, he partook frequently of the 
Sacraments of the Church. He would seem to have 
known something of that third stage of man's 
spiritual journey, which is reconciliation, after those 
others, — innocence and deviation, for he died in the 
fullness of the faith in which, under the glittering 
Jaliscan sun, he was born. What its meaning was in 
his Indian soul who shall say? Nor what the images 
of repentance and hope it called forth. 

He who reads all hearts alone knows if the years 
of deviation were blotted out. 

Huerta was doubtless guilty of many things. Was 
he a criminal? He was pursued by fate as was the 
family of the Atrldse, sharing in the crimes, not of 
the gods, but of his country. Yet he paid his price in 
full into his enemy's hand, and any man who has so 
paid takes on again the first dignity of his being. 

Mexico, too, has paid in full, and though the evil 
deeds of the weak are unpardonable, shall we not 
show some virtue in our own strength? . . . 

It was on the night of the thirteenth of January 
(1916), shortly after eight o'clock, that Huerta's 
attorney was called by telephone to the house on Stan- 
ton Street. It was only too evident that the old 
Indian lay on his death-bed. His face, which had 
become very small, was gray with that strange In- 
dian grayness preceding dissolution. His eyes, once 
vigilant and restless, were dull and quiet. 



VICTOKIANO HUEBTA 349 

Kneeling about the narrow bed were his wife and 
children, and his two old Indian sisters. His wife 
still beautiful, and beloved by all who knew her for 
her virtues and pitied for her misfortunes, had not 
ceased during many hours to recite the sorrowful 
mysteries of her rosary. His daughter Elena, wlio 
kept his hand pressed closely in hers, had a voice of 
exceeding beauty, and at intei-vals would sing 
familiar hymns of the Church and songs of the 
Patria whose soil he was no more to tread. 

A Mexican priest and an American army Chap- 
lain knelt near continuing to absolve him. The final 
and majestic words of the dismissal: "Go forth, O 
Christian soul, from this world, in the name of God 
the Father Almighty who created thee," made of the 
lowly room a mansion-hall. . . . 

Outside, in corridor and vestibule, were friends 
also fallen from high estate, partakers of his misfor- 
tunes and of their country's. In the street were many 
Indians in prayers and tears, for it is recorded of 
Huerta that even in his poverty he was never too 
poor to dispense alms. . . . 

Towards the last his wife entreated him to make 
the famous "statement" that he had so often prom- 
ised. But he answered her: "No, to what end? I 
die at peace with God and man. I forgive all who 
have injured me — most fully the President of the 
United States, for he never understood, and I ask 
pardon of all whom I have wronged. The rest I leave 
to God, into whose hands I entrust my poor family." 
After this he became restless, twitching at his covers, 
muttering indistinctly, in evident solicitude for his 
wife and children. Once they caught the words: 



350 INTIMATE PAGES OF MEXICAN HISTORY 

"If any money is ever realized on anything I pos- 
sess, let the poor have a share." 

Then raising himself slightly, he begged his daugh- 
ter to sing again, saying, "Thy voice is like an angel's 
voice." 

Shortly afterwards he entered into the death- 
agony. He spoke only once more and the words were 
very simple, "todo por los pobres" (all for the poor). 

A few minutes before nine o'clock he passed away, 
his face turned to the South. . . . Huerta had 
"gone." ... 

By a curious coincidence it was on this night that 
a mob, numbering several thousand, surged up and 
down San Antonio Street, the eighteen dead bodies 
of the San Isabel Massacre having arrived at six 
o'clock from Chihuahua. Another massacre, which, 
as an eye witness said, looked as if it were going to 
shame that of St. Bartholomew, was averted by City- 
police Captain Hall and two provost guards, who, 
with drawn revolvers, held the crowd at bay on 
Broadway Street, on their way to the Mexican Quar- 
ter of the city. This act turned the heads of the mob 
back towards San Antonio Street, giving time to rush 
soldiers to the center of the city, who there dispersed 
the crowd, which had meant to kill and burn in re- 
taliation for the murders at San Isabel by the 
"idealist" Villa, once considered "the safest man to 
tie to." . . . 

On the second day after his death the mortal re- 
mains of ex-President Huerta were carried as quietly 
as possible to the Concordia Cemetery, east of the 
city, where they were placed in a stone vault beside 



VICTORIANO HUERTA 351 

those of Pascual Orozco, who had been shot and killed 
by the Texas Rangers, a few months before, near Van 
Horn, ninety miles from El Paso. 

Father Joj^ce, the priest who had anointed him 
for his last journey, and Mr. Tom Lea, his attorney, 
were the only Americans in the little gathering that 
heard the heavy, iron-grated door close upon the form 
and features of Huerta, crushed at last by what he 
had been wont to call "el Coloso del Norte." . . . 

His end was as the end of many men of history, 
who at their birth and their beginning have received, 
with many gifts, many defects. 

But in the pitiless Northern light flung about his 
person and his acts, separating him from the deter- 
mining virtues and failings of his race, as the spot- 
light does the single figure, only his defects were 
visible. Yet he possessed some intrinsic qualities, 
making him perhaps worthy of his disasters. ... In 
the end he was even to outrun the law's delays, leav- 
ing his unjudged case to the mercy of history. . . . 

What was to be, had been. Huerta "gone," — and 
gone with him the last shred of legal government in 
Mexico. . . . 

And who shall restore to Mexico "the years which 
the locust and the bruchus and the mildew and the 
palmer-worm have eaten?" 



THE END 



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